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The Bones of Paris by Laurie R. King

The Bones of Paris

by Laurie R. King

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*Starred Review* King takes a break from her popular Mary Russell series to return to the story of Harris Stuyvesant from Touchstone (2008). Formerly an FBI agent and now a dissolute PI, Harris is still haunted by the events in the earlier book, which left his lover, Sarah, maimed. Needing work, he accepts a missing-persons job that takes him to Paris in 1929 and offers the possibility of reuniting with Sarah. Fans of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris will feel right at home in the Jazz Age Paris setting, though many of the famous Lost Generation figures are portrayed in a much less flattering light here (artist Man Ray, in particular, is a misogynist and murder suspect). The story is complex, more than a little kinky, and absolutely fascinating. The missing girl Harris seeks turns out to be only one of many missing persons who came into the orbit of a group of offbeat Parisian artists whose credo demands that art be visceral. Could the infamous Moreau, who creates tableaux using human bones to suggest the corruption of the flesh, be somehow connected to the missing young people? Harris noses about through familiar Left Bank haunts, encountering the era’s usual suspects (Hemingway, Sylvia Beach, Cole Porter, and Josephine Baker, among them), but beyond the cameos and the bohemian atmosphere, there is a compelling thriller here and some fascinating fictional characters to go with the real-life ones. As always with King, the plot is tricky but marvelously constructed, delivering twists that not only surprise but also deepen the story and its multiple levels of meaning. Break out that dusty bottle of absinthe you have stored away and settle in for a treat. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: King’s Mary Russell novels are her biggest sellers, but Touchstone hit the extended New York Times list, and this follow-up has Paris and the Lost Generation going for it. And don’t discount the web-savvy King, who does online promotion as well as any author out there. --Bill Ott ( )
  camtb | Jul 4, 2014 |
Expected more of "Touchstone" Bennett Grey, one of my all-time favorite characters. This book left me disappointed and hoping that there may be a future book with Grey as protagonist.
  PaperDollLady | Jun 10, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
As a fan of her Mary Russell series, I was hoping that this book would live up to that series by Ms. King. This book didn't quite make it there, but it was still an enjoyably fun romp in the 1920s Paris art world, and I will most certainly read the first book in this series to see if I can figure out a few little questions that I have. ( )
  LauraBrook | Mar 25, 2014 |
Truly macrabe but says something about how artists can do almost anything in the name of "art" and folks will follow along with it. The fact that such a theatre really did exist is kind of depressing.

Plot and storyline were OK--no real surprises but still interesting enough to keep me reading.

Not for us though. ( )
  crucena | Mar 17, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Harris Stuyvesant is a man who has lived his life adrift since the woman he loves was disfigured in an accident he could have prevented. He is an American man, but lives where ever he can find investigative work in Europe. The family of Philippa “Pip” Crosby dragged him out of Berlin and brought him back to Paris. Pip, the young daughter of a wealthy American family, had been discovering herself in 1920s Paris when she simply stopped writing home. Unbeknownst to her family, Stuyvesant had a fling with her before she disappeared. He took the assignment to get out of Berlin, but his deep need to find Pip was fueled by his guilty conscious. He had nothing to do with Pip’s disappearance, but he treated her only as a good time girl and she represented all of the romantic mistakes he’d made over the course of his life.

What I Enjoyed

The sights and sounds of 1920s Paris, especially the art scene.

This was my first novel featuring Harris Stuyvesant. I enjoyed his complexity and his messiness. I appreciated that he had a soul and, when he stopped to pay attention, saw what was worthy in other people. I also appreciated that Laurie R. King wrote this book in such a way that it stood alone on its own. I never felt at a loss during The Bones of Paris because this was my first encounter with Stuyvesant.

The “Conversation” chapters that took place without Stuyvesant’s knowledge were interesting and made it fun to speculate about what really was happening.

What Didn’t Work As Well For Me

This book slowed down as it reached the middle and it didn’t speed back up for me until near the end.
As his investigation progresses without much result, Harris became more desperate to find Pip. He kept returning to an actual historical figure as his prime suspect in her disappearance. Even if I bought Stuyvesant’s arguments for this character’s involvement, this person was never accused of any criminal activity during his lifetime. As a modern reader I found it extremely unlikely, making that line of speculation feel especially long.

Stuyvestant was simply a private investigator. He wasn’t a man of influence or affluence. Still, he knew or was acquainted with just about every famous person in Paris. There were sections of the book that felt like name dropping as a result. Since those sections rarely if ever advanced the story, it did nothing more than weight the story down.

Audiobook Production and Narrator Jefferson Mays

I snagged this book as part of Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program. I first attempted to read this book in print as the book hadn’t arrived yet. I had a hole in my reading schedule and thought I’d get a head start by picking up a copy at the library. Toward the middle of the book I picked up something else. While I found Stuyvesant interesting, I realized I didn’t have any innate need to find out what happened to Pip Crosby. A couple of weeks later the audiobook I actually snagged arrived in the mail. While I had the temptation to skip through the disks to get to where I last left the story, I listened to the audiobook from the beginning. This was my first experience listening to Jefferson Mays narrate. I was impressed. His tone kept the listen pleasant even while the story itself was slow. While the main character is American, Mays handled both French and British accents well. While he didn’t alter his voice or accent a great deal for female characters, I always knew who was speaking in a scene.
This audiobook was produced by Recorded Books. The audiobook was well made. There was only one time when I think I might have noticed a sentence that was corrected, but I’m not entirely sure.

This audiobook had audible prompts at the end and beginning of each CD. When I first started listening to audiobooks on my car stereo, my preference was to have those prompts. Most of the audiobooks I’ve listened to on CD do not have them. Over time, I must have gotten used to figuring out the transitions on my own because now I think I prefer not to get prompted.

Overall Impressions

I am glad that I gave this book a second chance because what the author did with the mystery itself was interesting. I am not sure that’s enough to make me want to pick up the first book in this series or any that are to follow. I prefer my mysteries to be faster paced. This would be a good selection for those who like slow burns. Jefferson May is another story entirely. He made this book enjoyable even when I wasn’t as gripped by the story itself. I would definitely pick up another audiobook performed by Jefferson Mays. ( )
  LiterateHousewife | Feb 27, 2014 |
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For Robert Difley,

a brother in more than law.
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The envelope reached Bennett Grey early Wednesday afternoon.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345531760, Hardcover)

New York Times bestselling author Laurie R. King, beloved for her acclaimed Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series, consistently writes richly detailed and thoroughly suspenseful novels that bring a distant time and place to brilliant life. Now, in this thrilling new book, King leads readers into the vibrant and sensual Paris of the Jazz Age—and reveals the darkest secrets of its denizens.
Paris, France: September 1929. For Harris Stuyvesant, the assignment is a private investigator’s dream—he’s getting paid to troll the cafés and bars of Montparnasse, looking for a pretty young woman. The American agent has a healthy appreciation for la vie de bohème, despite having worked for years at the U.S. Bureau of Investigation. The missing person in question is Philippa Crosby, a twenty-two year old from Boston who has been living in Paris, modeling and acting. Her family became alarmed when she stopped all communications, and Stuyvesant agreed to track her down. He wholly expects to find her in the arms of some up-and-coming artist, perhaps experimenting with the decadent lifestyle that is suddenly available on every rue and boulevard.
As Stuyvesant follows Philippa’s trail through the expatriate community of artists and writers, he finds that she is known to many of its famous—and infamous—inhabitants, from Shakespeare and Company’s Sylvia Beach to Ernest Hemingway to the Surrealist photographer Man Ray. But when the evidence leads Stuyvesant to the Théâtre du Grand-Guignol in Montmartre, his investigation takes a sharp, disturbing turn. At the Grand-Guignol, murder, insanity, and sexual perversion are all staged to shocking, brutal effect: depravity as art, savage human nature on stage.
Soon it becomes clear that one missing girl is a drop in the bucket. Here, amid the glittering lights of the cabarets, hides a monster whose artistic coup de grâce is to be rendered in blood. And Stuyvesant will have to descend into the darkest depths of perversion to find a killer . . . sifting through The Bones of Paris.
The award-winning novels of Laurie R. King are . . .
“Delightful and creative.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Intricate clockworks, wheels within wheels.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Audacious.”—Los Angeles Times
“Rousing . . . riveting . . . suspenseful.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“Imaginative and subtle.”—The Seattle Times
“Impossible to put down.”—Romantic Times
“Beguiling . . . tantalizing.”—The Boston Globe

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:12:10 -0400)

Paris, France: September 1929. Private investigator Harris Stuyvesant, on the hunt for a missing twenty-two year old woman from Boston, must descend into the darkest depths of perversion to find a killer hiding in the Theatre du Grand-Guignol in Montmartre.… (more)

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