Strangled in Paris by Claude Izner

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Strangled in Paris is not a promising title is it? A mini break gone horribly wrong perhaps.

But no, this book is one of a series of Victor Legris mysteries (the back cover tells me), set in Belle Époque Paris. Victor and sidekick Joseph go around Paris investigating the murder of young seamstress Louise Fontaine.

Along the way though, the text is stuffed chock-a-block with very esoteric references. Not only to English literature, but French literature too. I was just fairly confused for a lot of the book- I LOVE literature and have no problem with the concept of an elevated, clever murder mystery, but most of the stuff went straight over my head.

The excessive footnoting and quoting is maybe a byproduct of three of the main characters working in a bookshop- I think. The cast was difficult to untangle, probably a natural consequence of stepping into the middle of a series.

Kudos to Izner for highlighting the plight of women in Ye Olden Days and showing romantic Belle Époque Paris’s seedy underworld: there are atmospheric descriptions of workhouses and dodgy arrondissement.

Parisian chic or not, I can’t get my head around all those allusions. Sometime you just want a murder mystery rather than a lesson in intertextuality.

Read: If you’ve read the other ones already.

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