MURDER ON THE EIFFEL TOWER - Claude Izner

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Murder on the Eiffel Tower
ISBN: 
9781906040017
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Victor Legris
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Book Synopsis

The brand-new, shiny Eiffel Tower is the pride and glory of the 1889 World Exposition. But one sunny afternoon, as visitors are crowding the viewing platforms, a woman collapses and dies on this great Paris landmark. Can a bee sting really be the cause of death? Or is there a more sinister explanation? Enter young bookseller Victor Legris. Present on the tower at the time of the incident, and appalled by the media coverage of the occurence, he is determined to ?nd out what actually happened. In this dazzling evocation of late nineteenth-century Paris, we follow Victor as his investigation takes him all over the city and he suspects an ever-changing list of possible perpetrators. Could mysterious Kenji Mori, his surrogate father and business partner at the bookstore Legris operates, be involved in the crime? Why are beautiful Russian illustrator Tasha and her colleagues at the newly launched sensationalist newspaper Passepartout always up-to-date in their reporting? And what will Legris do when the deaths begin to multiply and he is caught in a race against time?

Murder on the Eiffel Tower is painstakingly researched, an effortless evocation of the glorious City of Light, and an exciting opening to a promising series of eight books featuring Victor Legris.

Book Review

I suspect we all pick up a book looking forward to what is going to happen.  So normally around page 50 a reader will be getting twitchy if nothing much has happened.  Get to the end of the book and it still seems like you're waiting for something to happen and it's a very frustrating experience.  

Set during the 1889 World Expo in Paris, the Eiffel Tower has just been officially opened and is a massive attraction.  When a woman dies on one of the Tower's platforms, officially she died from a bee sting.  As other people also die supposedly from bee stings, the police are not particularly interested, but Victor Legris, local bookseller and man about town type, is convinced that there is something sinister to these deaths.

Part of the reason that the book seems to go nowhere is that very early on the reader will find themselves being dragged down all sorts of cul-de-sacs, and dead-end alleyways into some, albeit fascinating historical aspects.  What the book does particularly well is give you a great sense of the place and time - with some of those cul-de-sacs quite interesting in their own right.  If only they hadn't dragged the focus away from the main plot point just once too often.

None of that meandering around was much helped by the investigation style of Legris.  Which seemed to amount to a lot of leaping and posturing, and very little in the way of fact gathering - or disclosure to the reader for that matter.  

The other problem with the book was some seriously poor character development, particularly that of Legris and his love interest, Tasha the Russian artist.  He was very flat, and strangely one-dimensional and I did wonder how much the background of the author (actually two Parisian bookselling sisters) informed their view of their central protagonist.  Perhaps they were aiming for dramatic and interesting, but alas ended up with melodramatic and a bit silly.  Tasha didn't fare much better, as if being an artist in 1880's Paris wasn't enough of a cliché, she was Russian, she started out with a bit of potential, but quickly faded to bland.

I will dip into the next book in the series, as it's here, and first books are often not a good indicator of the potential of a series, but to be honest, I had to bribe myself with a chocolate for every 20 pages read to finish this one.  I hope my doctor's not going to get all over-excited about my blood sugar levels after the next one.

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