BN.com Gift Guide
Customer Reviews for

Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris

Average Rating 4
( 35 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(11)

4 Star

(14)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

Most Helpful Favorable Review

13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

Thoroughly Creepy, Well Written

I put off reading this book, because traditionally I don't enjoy non-fiction, but I do like stories with a historical basis. I wish I hadn't put it off, because once I started it, I really wanted to keep reading and just didn't have as much time on my hands. The author ...
I put off reading this book, because traditionally I don't enjoy non-fiction, but I do like stories with a historical basis. I wish I hadn't put it off, because once I started it, I really wanted to keep reading and just didn't have as much time on my hands. The author writes non-fiction in a very narrative style, which surprised me and made me wish other non-fiction was written this way. He does a great job of painting a picture of the crime scenes, courtroom, people etc. that makes you feel like you are a part of the story. At times it did get a little wordy and overly descriptive, but for the most part it was appropriate and made the book easier to read. As I was reading this novel, I found myself getting goose bumps, and having to go check that my doors were locked because the descriptions are somewhat creepy, but it was all in a good way that added to this unfortunately true story. There aren't any books that I have read recently that compare to this one, especially in the non-fiction category, it is definitely one that I will recommend to my friends and family.

Reviewed by Gabi for Book Sake.

posted by BookSakeBlogspot on October 3, 2011

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review

Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

I found it quite ironic that there was an uproar and massive investigation for the murderer, when Hitler and his minions were, quite nonchalantly, murdering millions and burning their bodies, for so long, without the outcry from the citizenry.

The book begins in 1944, in the upscale 16th arrondissement of Paris, a city under siege by the Germans. It is the time of The holocaust! There is black putrid smoke escaping from a chimney. A neighbor calls the police after the stench becomes overwhelming, but when the...
The book begins in 1944, in the upscale 16th arrondissement of Paris, a city under siege by the Germans. It is the time of The holocaust! There is black putrid smoke escaping from a chimney. A neighbor calls the police after the stench becomes overwhelming, but when the police arrive to investigate, they find something quite unexpected. It is a scene of mass murder and bodies are burning.
Dr. Marcel Petiot, the owner of the building, was rumored to be in the French resistance but he has a checkered past. He disappeared shortly after the discovery of the bodies. The investigation into the mass murders is hampered by the nature of the times with the German occupation. The death and disappearance of many, for either criminal or religious reasons, was commonplace, so, although, Dr. Petiot aroused the suspicions of many, he was largely ignored. The Nazis routinely kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured, and/or murdered, anyone they deemed dangerous to the regime.
The court case appeared to be sloppily handled and mismanaged but one has to keep in mind that it took place shortly after the liberation of Paris, and the crimes were committed during the German occupation which made the evidence collection and witness interview process more cumbersome than it normally would have been.
The scope of the crime and the madness surrounding it, coupled with the inept handling of the investigation, at the time, with the war still raging in Europe, made it a monumental effort for the police force to solve it and for the author to research. It is obvious that he has done an enormous amount of work compiling the information and has included an abundance of footnotes to back it up. Still it was hard to follow, at times. It was, nevertheless, a good mystery, making me question if it could really be true because the crimes were so heinous. If it didn't get so bogged down in details, it would have held my interest more, since it kept me guessing; did he or didn't he? It wasn't until the last two dozen pages that I was enlightened as to whether or not the main character was guilty or innocent.
At times, the writing style seemed confusing. The message was often unclear and redundant, and the reading became tedious. A descriptive character list, someplace at the back of the book and a time line to follow for each character, to make the book easier to follow, would have been helpful. The unknown names of places and people and the plethora of foreign titles and details, made it even more perplexing. Some of the episodes seemed to be repeated or were so similar that it appeared that way. Since this was an Advanced Reader's Copy, perhaps many of these issues were corrected in the final version.
I did not care for the cover which features some kind of a creature overlooking the city. Rather than looking scholarly, as a non-fiction book generally does, it looks as if it is geared for a different audience, one that likes science fiction, fantasy or stories about monsters. Petiot was indeed a monstrous man but not a monster. Was he "the great imposter" or the victim of circumstances? He had many identities and false papers to go with them. Was he a resistance fighter, a collaborator or a serial killer? A master at conversation, brilliant in creating excuses, charismatic and witty, he was an enigma to those who knew him or investigated his behavior.

posted by thewanderingjew on October 3, 2011

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews
Page 1 of 2
  • Posted October 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Thoroughly Creepy, Well Written

    I put off reading this book, because traditionally I don't enjoy non-fiction, but I do like stories with a historical basis. I wish I hadn't put it off, because once I started it, I really wanted to keep reading and just didn't have as much time on my hands. The author writes non-fiction in a very narrative style, which surprised me and made me wish other non-fiction was written this way. He does a great job of painting a picture of the crime scenes, courtroom, people etc. that makes you feel like you are a part of the story. At times it did get a little wordy and overly descriptive, but for the most part it was appropriate and made the book easier to read. As I was reading this novel, I found myself getting goose bumps, and having to go check that my doors were locked because the descriptions are somewhat creepy, but it was all in a good way that added to this unfortunately true story. There aren't any books that I have read recently that compare to this one, especially in the non-fiction category, it is definitely one that I will recommend to my friends and family.

    Reviewed by Gabi for Book Sake.

    13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 22, 2011

    Live To Read

    This is one of the most interesting nonfiction books a reader can come across. It chronicles the evil and murders of Marcel Petiot. Petiot may be held accountable for over one hundred murders, making him one of the most diabolical murderers of all time (who was not, of course, a war lord). He operated under the guide of aiding Jews during World War II; instead, he brutally killed them. He plucked some victims off the street, leaving their families to wonder.

    There are many questions regarding Petiot that really have no definitive answer. Was he a sociopath? Psychopath? Part of the French Resistance? Skilled physician? or, perhaps, all of the above. The author doesn't attempt to sway the reader one way or the other, he remains fairly neutral.

    Forensic teams examined Petiot's handiwork, autopsies were performed, etc...the reader has the privilege of following this mystery and the experts who attempted to answer or at least describe the questions behind Petiot. The author has clearly done extensive research, everything flows. The events fall into place like dominoes, the reader won't be too confused (and this has the potential for being a confusing nonfiction book). This book is recommended to young adults/adults who enjoy nonfiction.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 14, 2011

    Stomach Turning but oh so good

    In a word.....WOW!!! I think you know by now that I am obsessed with True Crime. I have read a lot and always learn something. Death in the City of Light was mind blowing for me. I know I say it every time but the degree of sickness that these people, serial killers have is something that I don't think I will ever understand.



    Dr. Petiot was a much loved doctor. Who would have thought that he would have bodies and body parts in and about his house and sewers. He was a cold blooded killer with a wife and family! No not the first or the last but something about this book repulsed me so much more than others. I can't put my finger on just what it was.


    The number of murders reported in the book is 27 but I really think there are so many more victims that are unidentified and or unfound. The author did his research and there is a lot of history included. Remember, this was all going on while the serial killer Hitler was doing his own murdering. We read a lot about Paris at this time and that was very interesting for me. Let me tell you, lots of grimacing and head shaking went on while I was reading this book.

    Death in the City of Light is a bit on the long side due to all the vivid details and descriptions that the author includes. The trial was for me the best part of the book. Still caused me to shake my head more than once at the goings on, it got more interesting with every page turn.

    Definitely one to read if you are a true crime fan.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2012

    Really Interesting Book

    I'm a big fan of historical true crime and this was a really interesting book and not a true crime event I'd heard of before. Dr. Petiot murdered at least 27 (or perhaps over 100) people in Nazi occupied Paris between 1941-1944 when his crimes were discovered. After a 7 month chase he was captured and over his trial claimed he was a member of the French Resistance, despite proof that several of his known victims were Jews and disappeared after being taken to Dr. Petiot for a clandestine escape to Argentina to avoid Nazi deportation. Additionally no Resistance groups had heard of him or the resistance group Fly-Tox that he perported to work with. This book is a very interesting read (though I do wish the author had presented the facts chronologically and didn't skip hop around with dates quite so much ) and worth every penny.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    Awesome book!

    I had never heard of this guy before,the story was fascinating! I usually am not into nonfiction, but really enjoyed the book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 10, 2011

    Very slow reading.

    The book is very hard to really get into. It is so slow moving. I'm not all that fond of this author. He didn't GRAB me. I won't pick this author again. Just not enough punch!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2011

    Interesting

    Good story line, but a bit longer and more indepth than it needed to be.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 3, 2011

    I found it quite ironic that there was an uproar and massive investigation for the murderer, when Hitler and his minions were, quite nonchalantly, murdering millions and burning their bodies, for so long, without the outcry from the citizenry.

    The book begins in 1944, in the upscale 16th arrondissement of Paris, a city under siege by the Germans. It is the time of The holocaust! There is black putrid smoke escaping from a chimney. A neighbor calls the police after the stench becomes overwhelming, but when the police arrive to investigate, they find something quite unexpected. It is a scene of mass murder and bodies are burning.
    Dr. Marcel Petiot, the owner of the building, was rumored to be in the French resistance but he has a checkered past. He disappeared shortly after the discovery of the bodies. The investigation into the mass murders is hampered by the nature of the times with the German occupation. The death and disappearance of many, for either criminal or religious reasons, was commonplace, so, although, Dr. Petiot aroused the suspicions of many, he was largely ignored. The Nazis routinely kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured, and/or murdered, anyone they deemed dangerous to the regime.
    The court case appeared to be sloppily handled and mismanaged but one has to keep in mind that it took place shortly after the liberation of Paris, and the crimes were committed during the German occupation which made the evidence collection and witness interview process more cumbersome than it normally would have been.
    The scope of the crime and the madness surrounding it, coupled with the inept handling of the investigation, at the time, with the war still raging in Europe, made it a monumental effort for the police force to solve it and for the author to research. It is obvious that he has done an enormous amount of work compiling the information and has included an abundance of footnotes to back it up. Still it was hard to follow, at times. It was, nevertheless, a good mystery, making me question if it could really be true because the crimes were so heinous. If it didn't get so bogged down in details, it would have held my interest more, since it kept me guessing; did he or didn't he? It wasn't until the last two dozen pages that I was enlightened as to whether or not the main character was guilty or innocent.
    At times, the writing style seemed confusing. The message was often unclear and redundant, and the reading became tedious. A descriptive character list, someplace at the back of the book and a time line to follow for each character, to make the book easier to follow, would have been helpful. The unknown names of places and people and the plethora of foreign titles and details, made it even more perplexing. Some of the episodes seemed to be repeated or were so similar that it appeared that way. Since this was an Advanced Reader's Copy, perhaps many of these issues were corrected in the final version.
    I did not care for the cover which features some kind of a creature overlooking the city. Rather than looking scholarly, as a non-fiction book generally does, it looks as if it is geared for a different audience, one that likes science fiction, fantasy or stories about monsters. Petiot was indeed a monstrous man but not a monster. Was he "the great imposter" or the victim of circumstances? He had many identities and false papers to go with them. Was he a resistance fighter, a collaborator or a serial killer? A master at conversation, brilliant in creating excuses, charismatic and witty, he was an enigma to those who knew him or investigated his behavior.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 15, 2014

    Mildly Disturbing, but overall an interesting read

    Mildly Disturbing, but overall an interesting read

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2014

    Excellent read !

    Mr. King is surely giving Erik Larson a run for his money. This novel was a true page turner, horrifying, and written in an easy flowing narrative style. The fact that it is all true-is really mind-blowing. Keep them coming Mr. King and watch out Mr. Larson !

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2014

    Okay, not one of the most suspenseful books.

    It was interesting to read, but I've read true crime books that were more engrossing.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2013

    Fascinating book, even if it drags a bit in the middle,but it ma

    Fascinating book, even if it drags a bit in the middle,but it makes up for it when telling the story of the trial. What makes this book so special is that the investigation takes place during the Nazi occupation of Paris. Not only do the police have to figure out who the killer was, but also whether he was protected by the Gestapo, or whether he was a member of the Resistance. Then, since the trial occurred after the Nazis were gone,  whether or not the police, the witnesses, and even the victims had been collaborators mattered.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2012

    A Page Turner

    The story of Dr Marcel Petiot and his crime spree is a compelling tragedy. Just when one thinks WWII doesn't have more strange stories to offer this book comes along. It drags a bit in the middle as the author spends too much time on the months where Dr. Petiot wasn't found and of the doings of the intelligentsia in France during occupations. Still this book is definitely worth a read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2012

    Nursury

    For deathstars kits

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews
Page 1 of 2