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The Bookseller by Mark Pryor (2012)



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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 |
This book was just "meh." There had to be too much explanation at the end to tidy things up, instead of a wonderfully and intricately woven story that comes together naturally. It wasn't the worst book I've ever read but I've read much better. ( )
  jamaicanmecrazy | Dec 30, 2015 |
I liked it, but it's nothing special. The formula of the book is as old as it can get: Main protagonist has a friend in the CIA to make research easy, he meets a 'girl' that also has connections, and of course it clicked instantly btw them. At least there is no ticking clock to the investigation or I could swear I was reading a Dan Brown novel.

The hero of the book is likable, if unbelievable in his role. For a head of security for an embassy that once worked for the FBI, he sure seem to know nothing about security protocols and interrogations. You'll also probably guess the plot resolution before the end of the book.

But at least the story is interesting. A summer book, not much more. ( )
  kinwolf | Jul 6, 2015 |
I enjoyed The Bookseller for its window into Parisian life and for the background it provided of the bookstall owners. I've seen so many photographs of the bouquinistes, yet this is the first time I've read anything of their history. It was fascinating.

Unfortunately, the rest of the book wasn't on par with its insights into Paris and one of its institutions. Having deduced what was happening to the booksellers and why very early on, I wondered how long it would take Hugo Marston to put the pieces together. Too long, as it happens. Moreover, Marston himself never really clicked as a main character for me, and neither did his friend Tom Green. Both have promise, but both lacked that indefinable spark that would bring them to life.

Now that I've said all that, I will say that this is a promising debut mystery, and I am more than willing to give the next book in the series a try. ( )
  cathyskye | Sep 12, 2014 |
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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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