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The Bookseller by Mark Pryor (2012)



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I was put on to this series by Beth/BLBera, who reviewed it recently on her thread. It's the first mystery/thriller/suspense (I never know what to call this type of book) featuring Hugo Marston, whose day job is as head of security for the American embassy in Paris. That seems like a setup with lots of potential for good plotting, and perhaps it is in future books. This first one, though, finds Hugo freelancing during an enforced vacation, trying to solve the mystery of his missing friend, one of the picturesque bouqinistes who sell books and small touristy items along the banks of the River Seine. I have never been to Paris and had never heard of the bouqinistes but this book made me want to jump on a plane and visit, both the city and the booksellers. Paris is as much of a character as Hugo, and Pryor writes some great descriptive passages that evoke the romance of the city. The plot is a touch predictable but had a good array of potential suspects and enough red herrings to satisfy a mystery fan. Pryor deftly handles the lengthy character exposition that's inevitable in a series debut without dragging the plot to a standstill. I'd like to read more in this series if they are available at my library. ( )
  rosalita | Oct 18, 2016 |
To begin with, I was very interested. Further into the book I started wishing for it to hurry and end. It had a few good characters and I liked the setting in Paris. Somehow I guess it slowed down and took a long while to finally get to the point. ( )
  shesinplainview | Aug 1, 2016 |
Thoroughly enjoyable! ( )
  enemyanniemae | Jun 16, 2016 |
After years in FBI, Hugo Marston had moved to diplomatic security and after a few different posts ends up as the head of the security in the embassy in Paris.

Marston likes books, especially rare and old books, so being in Paris, he ends up visiting the bouquinistes and becomes a good friend with one of them, Max. And one day he sees his friend being abducted. Lacking jurisdiction, he calls the police and expects that they will look for Max - but the rest of the witnesses claim that nothing bad happened. Add a mysterious journalist (Claudia), Hugo's best friend Tom (an ex-CIA agent) and an old family from the French nobility and the story gets complicated.

The bouquinistes of Paris are being paid to leave their stalls. And when they refuse, they seem to disappear - until bodies start showing up. The books they are selling are not enough to justify all this - there should be something else. And this is where things get complicated - Max was a Nazi and collaborators hunter and there is a possibility that one of the people he unmasked may have found him. At he same time a drug war is brewing in the streets of Paris - between the Pied Noirs and the Romanians (who had lost their leader but seem to be still around -- although it takes Hugo a long time to realize that (for the record, Romanian is a Romance language even if most westerners would think of Spanish or Italian when they hear the accents)).

The stories of rare books, corrupted police, the WWII and of the drug war of now are converging. The story ends up being more complicated than just a simple mix (and less complicated in some ways - the way too many things that happen hide the story for a while). It makes sense at the end, even if I wish Hugo had guessed some of this a lot earlier.

And as a background of the story, Pryor has painted Paris - a Paris that is magical and normal; old and new at the same time. By the end of the novel, there are more bullets in it than before it and some secrets had been uncovered (and some pieces of history had been remembered again) but the city is still there, just waiting to see what else will happen.

The pacing could have been better and Hugo should have seen things faster but despite that, it is an enjoyable story and I want to read more about Hugo. ( )
1 vote AnnieMod | Mar 6, 2016 |
Purchased this as Whispersync through Book Gorilla.
Forget the summary; it skews the timeline.
Simply take Paris, American Embassy security chief on vacation,a good friend who is bookseller, rare books which are not what they seem, a reporter who is not what she seems, local cops who are not what they seem, an old friend who is CIA retired, and several murders. And be prepared to become addicted to Hugo Marsden's way of things (with plot twists).
Michael Prichard does a fine job of differentiating characters and adding snark.

My great disappointment is that there are no more of this series available on audio! ( )
  jetangen4571 | Feb 1, 2016 |
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The largest of Notre Dame's bells tolled noon just as Hugo reached the end of the bridge, the brittle air seeming to hold on to the final clang longer than usual.
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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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