The Missing Italian Girl: A Mystery in Paris


On a sultry night in June 1897, Pyotr Ivanovich Balenov, a young Russian, and two young women transport a dead man through the narrow streets of a working class neighborhood in northeastern Paris. They throw the body into the canal and the girls flee to the Latin Quarter to hide with one of the Russian’s anarchist
“comrades.” They do not realize they, too, are being watched.

Their subsequent disappearance and ...

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The Missing Italian Girl: A Mystery in Paris

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On a sultry night in June 1897, Pyotr Ivanovich Balenov, a young Russian, and two young women transport a dead man through the narrow streets of a working class neighborhood in northeastern Paris. They throw the body into the canal and the girls flee to the Latin Quarter to hide with one of the Russian’s anarchist
“comrades.” They do not realize they, too, are being watched.

Their subsequent disappearance and the violent acts that follow will set Clarie Martin, a teacher and mother of a toddler, and her husband,
magistrate Bernard Martin (last seen in Cezanne's Quarry and The Blood of Lorraine) on a dangerous quest to rescue them from a vicious killer.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Pope’s engaging third mystery featuring magistrate Bernard Martin (after 2011’s The Blood of Lorraine) shines a light on both the glamor and the grime of late-19th-century Paris. Two Italian sisters who have grown up in a Paris slum, 17-year-old Maura and 18-year-old Angela Laurenzano, enlist the aid of accused Russian anarchist, Pyotr Ivanovich, in disposing of the body of Angela’s abusive seducer in a canal. After Pyotr disappears, they fear that the police will charge them with murder. When the sisters themselves go missing, Francesca—Maura and Angela’s charwoman mother—turns to Clarie, Bernard’s wife, for assistance. Clarie, who is used to her genteel life as a teacher, must confront a bewildering world of revolutionaries and radicals, of the desperate and the devious. While the plot flounders at points, Clarie’s struggle to balance her role as a bourgeois wife and mother against her investigative instincts will entice readers. Agent: Mollie Glick, Foundry Literary + Media. (Feb.)
Boston Globe

PAST PRAISE FOR BARBARA CORRADO POPEA highly accomplished, compelling novel. Beneath an exquisite veneer of historical detail lurks a thoughtful exploration of religion.

“Deeply atmospheric. Pope moves through the dark side of fin-de-siecle Paris. The musings of Clarie about the wrenching inequity between the pampered women she teaches and those she and Bernard search for in back alleys gives us a window in to this glamorous yet perilous time. Engrossing.”
The Seattle Times
“An intriguing, richly drawn historical mystery. Pope handily blends genuine figures and events into her fictional bouillabaisse of art, science and mystery.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Fascinating. With a bleak view of humanity similar to Emile Zola’s, this story of tortured love and repressed violence resembles Iain Pears at his darkest.”
Library Journal
Pope's third series historical (after Cezanne's Quarry and The Blood of Lorraine) opens at night with three people hauling a man's corpse through deserted streets: Marcel Barbereau was dead as a doornail in 1897 Paris. Moments after swinging the body into a remote canal, the murderer, a Russian anarchist named Pyotr, and two Italian sisters, Angela and Maura, are confronted by a fellow anarchist. After a short, friendly chat, the three split up to avoid detection, but they are far from safe. Someone has decided to take "justice" into his or her own hands. Magistrate Bernard Martin's wife, Claire, yields to the girls' mother's pleas to help her daughters, but she might not be able to save herself from this killer. VERDICT Pope's absorbing, detailed mystery provides an eye-opening look at the class struggles of the working poor in fin de siécle France. Historical mystery buffs, especially fans of Elizabeth Peters and Anne Perry, will enjoy Bernard and Claire's adventures.—Susan Moritz, Silver Spring, MD
Kirkus Reviews
An unlikely sleuth is drawn into another murder mystery in turn-of-the-century France. On June 24, 1897, Maura and Angela, a pair of teenagers, help a Russian named Pyotr Ivanovich Balenov transport a corpse on a cart to a river just outside Paris, where they dump it. Now far away, hardworking teacher Clarie Martin rushes home after a tiring day, her only wish to spend time with her children and beloved husband, Bernard. But Francesca, an Italian charwoman at her school, buttonholes Clarie with a colorful and emotional tale about Francesca's daughter Angela, who's been "taken away" by an unsavory man who's promised to marry her. Can Clarie help? At home, Bernard greets her with the news that he has finally secured a salaried job, and the couple goes out to celebrate for the first time since moving to Paris. But the plight of the "Italian girls" continues to bother Clarie, who's lost a child and feels Francesca's anguish. As the girls toil away in a shirtwaist factory, the sudden disappearance of Pyotr and a suspicious bombing worry Angela and Maura immensely, and the arrival of a police inspector with questions about Barbereau, the dead man on the cart, push them to the brink. When Clarie receives a letter notifying her that Francesca won't be reporting for work since Angela has been killed, she knows what she must do. Pope's third mystery featuring Clarie (The Blood of Lorraine, 2010, etc.) expertly doles out pieces of its complex plot, a picaresque puzzle with satisfying period flavor.
The Oprah Magazine O
“The true draw here, though, is not so much the mystery as its portrait of women—and their not-so-equal rights—at the turn of the last century.
Clarie, too, is a wonderfully engaging heroine. Her love for her family,
her intellectual integrity and her stubbornness prove that evenin the face of senseless limitations, it's possible to find joy, truth—and evenoneself.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605984087
  • Publisher: Pegasus
  • Publication date: 2/13/2013
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Corrado Pope is a historian and the founding director of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Oregon. She is the author of the novels Cézanne’s Quarry and The Blood of Lorraine. Barbara lives in Eugene, Oregon, with her husband.

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