The Crimes of Paris: A True Story of Murder, Theft, and Detection

The Crimes of Paris: A True Story of Murder, Theft, and Detection

by Dorothy Hoobler, Thomas Hoobler
     
 

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Turn-of-the-century Paris was the beating heart of a rapidly changing world. Painters, scientists, revolutionaries, poets--all were there. But so, too, were the shadows: Paris was a violent, criminal place, its sinister alleyways the haunts of Apache gangsters and its cafes the gathering places of murderous anarchists. In 1911, it fell victim to perhaps the greatest… See more details below

Overview

Turn-of-the-century Paris was the beating heart of a rapidly changing world. Painters, scientists, revolutionaries, poets--all were there. But so, too, were the shadows: Paris was a violent, criminal place, its sinister alleyways the haunts of Apache gangsters and its cafes the gathering places of murderous anarchists. In 1911, it fell victim to perhaps the greatest theft of all time--the taking of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. Immediately, Alphonse Bertillon, a detective world-renowned for pioneering crime-scene investigation techniques, was called upon to solve the crime. And quickly the Paris police had a suspect: a young Spanish artist named Pablo Picasso....

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa serves as the centerpiece for the Edgar Award-winning Hooblers' (In Darkness Death) unwieldy account of life and crime in belle époque Paris. But the Hooblers devote so much time to the history of detection, in both fiction and real life, that the prized painting's disappearance soon slips the reader's mind. The authors locate the French obsession with the painting's disappearance in a general fascination with crime, from the fictional thief Arsène Lupin, the hero of popular serials, to real 19th-century figures such as Vidocq, a former criminal turned investigator who inspired Poe-and Alphonse Bertillon, whose criminal identification system based on body measurements was a precursor to the science of biometrics. A lengthy look at the Parisian art scene is overly digressive, though Picasso and his pal Apollinaire's tenuous connection to the Mona Lisa theft provides one of the book's rare dramatic sections. When the painting is finally recovered in Florence in 1913, the reader is left as unsatisfied by the Hooblers' scattered history as by the Italian-born thief's dubious rationale for the theft. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Apr. 3)

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Kirkus Reviews
Capacious study of some nefarious Parisians during the years before World War I, incongruously framed by the tale of Mona Lisa's famed disappearance in 1911. Co-authors Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler (Seven Paths to Death, 2008, etc.) spotlight the City of Light's darker elements, from public perversions and private infidelities to thievery, rape and murder. They juxtapose a host of seedy characters against a Who's Who of European modernism. The budding careers of Debussy, Satie, Apollinaire, Proust and Picasso provide a high-art context for some of the most sensational criminal cases of early 20th-century France. Marguerite Steinheil, already notorious as the mistress of French President Faurel, was accused of murdering her husband and mother in order to marry yet another lover. A hideously decomposed corpse discovered in the woods outside Paris was eventually linked through the new science of forensics to a reeking trunk found nearby, and through that to a prostitute and her accomplice in a badger-game scam. A serial killer who admitted to vampirism and a tailor who murdered a friend for money, chopped him up and distributed the body parts in neighborhoods across Paris are among the other unsavory individuals profiled. Though the authors strive to anchor these stories in a narrative of Mona Lisa's theft from the Louvre, returning to that altogether dissimilar case every few chapters, the notorious art crime is more comprehensively reexamined in R.A. Scotti's Vanished Smile (2009). A more fitting narrative armature for the Hooblers' parade of gruesomeness would have been their well-explicated sections on criminological innovations of the time. Chapters such as "Science vs. Crime" and "TheMan Who Measured People" are gripping, satisfying and edifying. The egregious misdeeds and their scientific detection are extraordinarily absorbing; the stolen painting belongs in another book.
Michael Connelly
"Part fast-paced thriller and part social history, The Crimes of Paris is a book you can't put down. I found it to be irresistibly engrossing."
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"... A thorough and at times disturbing view of turn-of-the-century Paris, and its crimes and passions...Francophiles and true-crime lovers will find the book a fascinating read...a fulfilling read for those of us who like to stalk the wild side from a cozy armchair, perhaps with a side of pâté."
Washington Post

“[An] engrossing forensic history. . . . [Its] lively portraits . . . [and] anecdotes buzz with energy.”—Washington Post
Cara Black
"Set in the early 20th century against the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre, The Crimes of Paris takes an evocative look at the darker side of the City of Light. An engrossing tale of a city vibrant with artists-even a young Picasso was involved in the theft-poets, anarchists, aristocratic and street thieves, belle epoque scandals, and the pioneers of crime detection. Delectable, compelling, and intriguing."

-Cara Black, author of Murder in the Marais

ForeWord

"The theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911 brings on stage Vicdocq and Bertillon as scientific investigators, Apollinaire and Picasso as possible villains, as well as leading lights of the Belle Epoque in supporting roles as a worldwide investigation gets underway. It’s high adventure throughout. The notes and bibliography alone are worth the price of the book."—Peter Skinner, ForeWord

— Peter Skinner

The Washington Post
"[An] engrossing forensic history...[its] lively portraits...[and] anecdotes buzz with energy."
ForeWord - Peter Skinner

"The theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911 brings on stage Vicdocq and Bertillon as scientific investigators, Apollinaire and Picasso as possible villains, as well as leading lights of the Belle Epoque in supporting roles as a worldwide investigation gets underway. It’s high adventure throughout. The notes and bibliography alone are worth the price of the book."—Peter Skinner, ForeWord
From the Publisher
"[An] engrossing forensic history...[its] lively portraits...[and] anecdotes buzz with energy."—The Washington Post"

... A thorough and at times disturbing view of turn-of-the-century Paris, and its crimes and passions...Francophiles and true-crime lovers will find the book a fascinating read...a fulfilling read for those of us who like to stalk the wild side from a cozy armchair, perhaps with a side of pâté."—Minneapolis Star-Tribune

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316052535
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
04/27/2009
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
1,285,052
File size:
6 MB

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