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Tags:Americans - France - Paris; Missing persons;

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The Bookseller by Mark Pryor (2012)




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Fine read. Hugo Marston is an ex FBI agent, now living in Paris as chief of security for the U.S. Embassy. Recently divorced from his second wife (his first wife was killed in a car crash) he shared a love of rare books with her and had developed a friendship with Max, owner of one of the bouquiniste, along the Seine.

He returns one afternoon after having bought a couple of first editions and witnesses Max being forced, at the point of a gun, on the a boat. When interviewed by the police, some of the bystanders insist that Max had gone willingly. The next day Max's stall has been taken over by someone who claims not to know Max. Hugo, having a couple weeks off, and an ex-cop, decides to check things out. He is soon joined by his old friend, Tom, a semi-retired CIA operative.

What makes this book special is less the mystery, although that's good, too, but rather the surroundings, the flavor of Paris and the little historical bits that some readers objected to, those who must have at least twelve gunshots on each page. I love informative paragraphs like

The term bouquinistes came from the Dutch word boeckin, meaning “small book.” Made sense. The first sellers, he read, used wheelbarrows to transport and sell their goods, and fastened trays to the parapets of the bridges with thin leather straps. After the French Revolution, business boomed when entire libraries were “liberated” from nobles and wound up for sale cheap on the banks of the Seine. In 1891, bouquinistes received permission to permanently attach their boxes to the quaysides. Hugo was struck by the line: “Today, the waiting list to become one of Paris's 250 bouquinistes is eight years.”
But what are we to make of Claudia and her gay father, a rich count, who, when he learns Hugo and Claudia are seeing each other tries to set him up with one of his attractive American employees? And what was his relationship to Gervais the chief of the bouquiniste union, the SBP? In the end, the book is a nice melange of spies, WW II collaborators, drug smugglers, murder, bad cops, microdots, a Holmesian suicide, and a shoot-out.

I downgraded it a bit because Gervois just didn’t seem that believable to me. ( )
  ecw0647 | Jan 5, 2014 |
A very good first outing. The story kept me interested, even though I figured out the story before the main character did. I think I will read the sequel. On a side note two things that surprised me about this book:
1. I usually don"t enjoy books that only have author reviews on the book- too much you scratch my back I will scratch yours, but it was not true of this book..
2. It was the first book that ever made me want to visit Paris. ( )
  zmagic69 | Oct 22, 2013 |
This debut novel by Mark Pryor has been my favorite book of 2013 so far. This is a captivating mystery set in Paris that centers on books and world of the bouquinistes, the booksellers with stalls around the Seine. Hugo Marston work at the U.S. Embassy in Paris. During a day off, he stops at the stall of a friend, the elderly Max Koche. As he is returning to purchase something from Max, he witnesses his abduction and off we go on an amazing adventure. I can not believe this is a debut novel. I thought the writing was very good, and was impressed with the descriptions of Paris. I enjoyed learning about the history of the booksellers. The characters were nicely developed and I am really looking forward to knowing more about them. I definitely would recommend this book. ( )
  kcapelli | Apr 26, 2013 |
A fun mystery made all the more enjoyable because of its Paris setting, this book reads somewhat like a translation, although it's not. Hugo Marston is a likeable protagonist, and one that I'll keep an eye on. ( )
  sleahey | Feb 19, 2013 |
A disappointingly written book; there were too many places where I was out-thinking the protagonist, the security chief of the American Embassy in France. If this had been fact rather than fiction, the American ambassador to France would have been in serious trouble.
  BooksCatsEtc | Jan 16, 2013 |
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When his bookseller friend, a former Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter, is kidnapped and other booksellers are murdered, Hugo Marston, head of security for the U.S. embassy in Paris, discovers a shocking conspiracy.

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