I had read good reviews of this author before I got this book. It is the first book of a new series that features Paris Police Detective Henri Lefort. Had no idea what to expect and I must admit that I was blown away by this first book. So well done, such a fascinating plot and well-defined characters. It was a joy to read this book, and the way it was written tells us so much about the character’s backgrounds. Just Superb!!!!
Lefort is a Robbery Detective in Paris during the beginning of the German occupation of WW2. The events take place about 6 weeks into their overthrow of France and we can feel the anger and resentment in almost all the Parisians. Lefort is called to investigate a burglary at the home of Princess Bonaparte, yes the distant relative of Napoleon. Lefort makes a big discovery and impresses everyone, so much so that the next day he is promoted to be a Murder Detective and is given the unenviable task of having to solve the murder of a German Officer. The officer had been assigned to The Louvre, and was deciding what works of art should be “repatriated” to Germany when he was killed. Lefort is given, by other German officers, a list of suspects, as well as being directed that he is not allowed to enter the Louvre in order to solve the murder. Not only that, he has been given a one-week time limit to resolve the case!
He enlists the help of the leading secretary in the police office, and together they try and find a killer. Along the way, the Princess has her home confiscated by the Nazis and has to move into an apartment, from which she contacts Henri and advises him that she studied and worked with Sigmund Freud and that she herself is a psychoanalyst. Henri was in WW1 and still has much emotional baggage and so she helps him begin to get over those matters. This is a marvelous way that Pryor gives us the backstory of Henri Lefort and we learn much about his life, his service in WW1 and is a great way to tell two separate stories in one book and set up so much more for future books. You can hopefully see Henri, his secretary Nicola, and Princess Mimi Bonaparte in future books.
Suspects are killed, the mystery deepens, and the motivating factor for Lefort is that if he cannot solve this case in a week, then Lefort himself will be tortured and killed.
This is a great read, a fast read, and one that will most likely explore much of the French/German relations of WW2 in future books in this series. If you like history and detective novels this is a great book for you. I was so impressed that I have already gone out and purchased the initial book of his first series. This is a quality writer and a book that most everyone will thoroughly enjoy and not want to put down until the very end. Oh, so good, and oh so many fascinating characters and plotlines. Great job, Mr. Pryor!