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The Paris Detective: A Novel by Gerald Jay
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The Paris Detective: A Novel

by Gerald Jay

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Unlike many of the reviewers of this mystery on Library Thing, I was not impressed by this mystery. A hit man is hired to kill an American industrialist . He doesn't manage on the first try . Although H thinks very highly of himself, he botches the killing and ends up on his next try killing 4 people. The case goes to a former Paris police inspector, Paul Mazarelle who has moved to this small town Taziac because of his wife's illness. He picks the wrong man as the killer with terrible consequences. Then the daughter of one of the couples killed arrives in this small town and puts herself at risk by trying to find the killer, ( )
  Risa15 | Aug 10, 2013 |
Like most long-time mystery readers, I feel an eager anticipation when I start the first book in a new series, wondering if it will be an introduction to a protagonist who will become like an old friend, revisited each year. In the case of The Paris Directive, just the listing of the first few chapters provided a frisson of excitement:

1. Berlin
2. Élysée Palace, Paris
3. Hotel Adlon, Berlin
4. L'Ermitage, Taziac
5. Frankfurt
6. Dordogne River, Bergerac
7. Café Valon, Taziac

Ah, looks like international intrigue. Sure enough, we begin by meeting Klaus Reiner, hired killer, whose cold efficiency, bland good looks and fluency in German, French and English have put him at the peak of his deadly profession, with the ability to choose the most lucrative contracts.

Reiner's newest assignment takes him to the fictional village of Taziac, in France's Dordogne. The beautiful village in summer, with its cafés and restaurants, makes no impression on the all-business Reiner. He just wants to get the job done and move on, with the satisfaction of seeing an impressively large new deposit to his numbered account in Switzerland. But the hit goes wrong and Reiner has to take out four middle-aged tourists, instead of just the one assigned to him.

This is where our protagonist enters the scene. Paul Mazarelle, a former Paris police detective now living in Taziac, jumps on the case like a dog on a bone. Mazarelle had moved to Taziac, his young wife's home village, when she became ill, and he is now a widower who doesn't know whether to make Taziac his permanent home or return to Paris. Mazarelle is a comfortably large, middle-aged man with a luxuriant mustache, who enjoys his pipe, good wine and food, and women. But, most of all, Mazarelle likes to sink his teeth into a meaty murder case.

Mazarelle's investigation quickly identifies a likely suspect, but he has some doubts and digs deeper, mostly hampered, more than helped, by his men, especially Dutoit, whose job qualifications include stupidity, laziness, insolence, racism and habitual abuse of suspects and witnesses. When a couple of the murder victims' daughter arrives from the U.S. to kibitz the investigation and further inflame the interest of the already-annoying journalists who have descended on the town, Mazarelle's job becomes even more complicated.

An intriguing cat-and-mouse game begins between Mazarelle and Reiner, which leads to a tense and dramatic climax. Readers who enjoy inverted mysteries (those in which the culprit is known; not a whodunnit) should enjoy this story--though it has some flaws, mostly in characterization. The reader doesn't get a good feel for what Mazarelle is really like. At first, he seems like a shrewd, avuncular investigator. But later actions belie that image and we don't read anything to reconcile the differences into a fuller understanding of a more complex character. Similarly, Reiner turns from a coldly calculating and controlled, intelligent hitman into something quite different, but with no hint of the reasons for the alteration.

Gerald Jay is a pseudonym. Whoever he is, despite these stumbles in characterization, his writing is assured and powerful, leading me to believe he must have some kind of writing experience. Jay is said to be at work on a new Mazarelle book. I'm hopeful that as we get to know Mazarelle better, he will become an old friend.

DISCLOSURE: I received a free review copy of this book. ( )
  Remizak | Apr 7, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I could never get excited about this book. While Mazarelle is an interesting character in some ways, I found his background disjointed. The story did not hang together very well. There were too many plot lines and not all were cleared up by the end. ( )
  Doondeck | Sep 29, 2012 |
Revealed in the first 10 pages, it's no spoiler to learn that a sociopathic assassin (is there any other kind?) has been hired by shadowy French operatives to murder someone in Tazaic, France. The tantalizing mystery of the book surrounds questions of Who is behind the killing? To what alleged political end? Who is the target? How did everything go so wrong? Who is the mysterious functionary from the US Embassy? While the killer improvises, Inspector Mazarelle (a thoughtful widower recently relocated to the countryside from Paris) is called in to head the search for the murderer. Much evidence points to an Algerian immigrant as the culprit. A victim's daughter (predictably ravishing and conveniently a NYC assistant district attorney) meddlesomely inserts herself into the investigation. As we race along to the denouement, we are treated to examples of French rampant bureaucracy and overt bigotry, counterbalanced by ugly American tendencies, and brash insensitivity. The writing skirts the line, almost, but not quite falling into caricature, saved especially by the endearing and humane Inspecter. I found the action and plotting fast paced and largely engrossing. This was a fast read. A fine start in an Inspecter Mazarelle series. I'll be watching for the next installment. ( )
  michigantrumpet | Sep 22, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was pleasantly surprised with this book. I don't even remember what about the blub made me cautious but there was no need. I enjoyed it a lot. Inspector Mazarelle is an interesting character, he's still grieving for his wife who recently succumbed to cancer. He had moved back with her to her home town and joined the local police force. A brutal murder happens in this lazy little vacation town and it's hurting the local economy so everyone wants a quick resolution. Unfortunately, Mazarelle likes to do the job right.

The daughter of one of the murdered couple comes to claim her parents, she happens to be a criminal attorney and decides to stick her nose into the pot and doesn't like how it's turning out, so she starts poking around. Little do either of them know the murderer was a hired assassin and is unhappy that neither of them are accepting the patsy he worked so hard frame.

Overall, a pretty decent read much better than many of the mysteries out there, but still had plenty of it own holes if you really looked. The good news is they weren't so obvious that it wrecked the book. I enjoyed reading it and I think I'll keep an eye out for the next one. ( )
  readafew | Aug 31, 2012 |
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Epigraph
"And even those doomed to be the next night's victims are full of plans ... "
- Volker Schlondorff, 'Circle of Deceit'
Dedication
For Nancy
First words
Reiner checked his watch as he waited by the elevator. Within the next sixty seconds, the elegant Frau Dr. Sachs, her chic shoulder-length hair dyed the color of a concert grand, would leave her penthouse apartment for her office at number 18 on the fashionable Freidrichstrasse. Dr. Sachs was a creature of habit. That always made things easier.
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Book description
In a Berlin hotel room in the late 1990s, two former French intelligence agents hire Klaus Reiner, a ruthlessly effective killer, to eliminate an American industrialist vacationing in southwestern France. Reiner easily locates his target in the small Dordogne village of Taziac, but the hit is compromised when three innocent people are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Enter Inspector Paul Mazarelle. Formerly of Paris but now living in Taziac, the inspector is charged with bringing his experience and record of success in the capital to bear on the gruesome quadruple homicide at the height of tourist season.

Both Mazarelle’s investigation and Reiner’s job become complicated when Molly, a New York City district attorney and daughter of two of the victims, arrives to identify the bodies and begins asking questions. All evidence points to Ali Sedak, a local Arab handyman, but Mazarelle and Molly have doubts, forcing Reiner to return to Taziac to ensure they see things as he arranged them. Little does anyone in the picturesque French countryside know how politically charged this crime is: its global ramifications, stemming from the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, could overshadow everything.

Tailored in crisp prose, this tantalizing and skillfully written thriller possesses all the luxury refinements of the best international intrigue. Jay’s novel chills, excites, and engrosses, pitting a smooth, calculating villain against an earthy, sympathetic Frenchman whose twilight career is suddenly heating up.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385535481, Hardcover)

Christopher Reich: "Outstanding! A beguiling, atmospheric, and entirely entertaining novel that promises intrigue and suspense from the very first page. Inspector Mazarelle is a wonderful creation: a world weary, gimlet-eyed detective who must rouse himself for one last case. I expect to see him one day in the pantheon of greats alongside Poirot, Maigret, Brunetti and Zen." —Christopher Reich, New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Deception

In a Berlin hotel room in the late 1990s, two former French intelligence agents hire Klaus Reiner, a ruthlessly effective killer, to eliminate an American industrialist vacationing in southwestern France. Reiner easily locates his target in the small Dordogne village of Taziac, but the hit is compromised when three innocent people are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Enter Inspector Paul Mazarelle. Formerly of Paris but now living in Taziac, the inspector is charged with bringing his experience and record of success in the capital to bear on the gruesome quadruple homicide at the height of tourist season.

Both Mazarelle’s investigation and Reiner’s job become complicated when Molly, a New York City district attorney and daughter of two of the victims, arrives to identify the bodies and begins asking questions. All evidence points to Ali Sedak, a local Arab handyman, but Mazarelle and Molly have doubts, forcing Reiner to return to Taziac to ensure they see things as he arranged them. Little does anyone in the picturesque French countryside know how politically charged this crime is: its global ramifications, stemming from the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, could overshadow everything.

Tailored in crisp prose, this tantalizing and skillfully written thriller possesses all the luxury refinements of the best international intrigue. Jay’s novel chills, excites, and engrosses, pitting a smooth, calculating villain against an earthy, sympathetic Frenchman whose twilight career is suddenly heating up.

"Jay’s entertaining first novel pays homage to George Simenon and his legendary detective, Inspector Maigret.... The main draw is the charming, indomitable Inspector Mazarelle, who enjoys puffing on his old pipe, stopping for cognac in the middle of the day, and dining on sausages and lentils or his favorite dish, duck confit, at the Café Valon. Mystery fans will look forward to seeing more of him in the promised sequel." Publishers Weekly

"Gerald Jay has woven threads of police procedural, espionage, rural noir, ‘acts of barbarism,’ and Gallic charm into a story that will be a great fit for almost any crime fan." Booklist, starred review

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:06:37 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

When a hired hit gone wrong culminates in innocent deaths in a small village in southwestern France, Inspector Paul Mazarelle finds the case complicated by the arrival of the victims' daughter, a New York City district attorney.

» see all 2 descriptions

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