Monday, May 20, 2013

Mark Pryor: Two Hugo Marston Novels -- Paris and Crime!

Lucky, lucky me ... I picked up Mark Pryor's new book THE CRYPT THIEF, the second Hugo Marston detective novel -- and I hadn't known about the first one! So as soon as I finished one, I devoured the other, also. You know how a really good meal gives you a calm sense of goodwill? So does a pair of good books, one after the other. Ah .... I might just read poetry for the rest of the week (well, maybe not, but it feels that good).

Hugo Marston is a delightful investigator, intense, highly skilled, and very believable. A former FBI profiler, he's switched careers to provide security to the US Ambassador in Paris, a much less risky, less dark endeavor. Moreover, his Ambassador is smart, sane, supportive -- life could be simple and honorable and ... clean. Even if not always fortunate in terms of love.

But in The Bookseller, a shabby strreet-level bookseller who has shared many a good book (at good prices) with Hugo over the years gets kidnapped at gun point. And Hugo Marston may be the only witness, and one unable to do anything about it.

The Paris police won't buy into the case; somehow there are Nazi hunters involved; old books play a role; and so does Hugo's new relationship with a beautiful and savvy reporter. It's a classic detection novel, played out in France, and worth every turn of the page.

Then comes THE CRYPT THIEF, where Marston's profiling skills are called into play as someone incidentally kills two tourists in the famous Pere Lachaise cemetery -- while stealing bones. Marston's former FBI buddy Tom Green, an intense and somewhat damaged CIA operative and consultant but a good friend (who also appeared in The Bookseller), arrives for a long visit and assumes Hugo will put up with his drinking, his despair, and his bad decisions. As Marston's investigation picks up pace and focuses on a clever and powerful serial killer, will Tom's rash behavior capsize the operation? And what are the risks of allowing Claudia, the reporter who's backed away from Marston, back into the press of events?

Tightly written, quick-paced, and redolant of French life and Parisian complexity, this is a pair of books well worth reading. And it's clear there will be more Hugo Marston mysteries ahead. Oh, I am indeed a very lucky reader ...

By the way, here's author Mark Pryor's website. Have fun -- and if you've already enjoyed one or both of these, do add your thoughts on the series as a comment here, s'il vous plait.

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