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Posted October 16, 2012
If you’re a glutton for detail, this novel probably will fulfill your every desire. Possibly every street and alley in Paris seems to be named, and the author has so deeply researched the background that the facts will overwhelm you. Not that this is a bad thing, it’s just, sometimes, too much to absorb. Yet is an absorbing mystery in which Toby Keats (no relation to the poet), a rewrite man on the Paris Herald owned by Col. McCormick encounters a bit of history in the mid-1920s.
It begins when Toby and his co-worker, Waverly Root, are summoned to the Hotel Ritz suite of the colonel’s mother. She shows them a mechanical duck, an automate, which moves its wings, ingests and defecates, delivered to her in error instead of two porcelain parrots. She tells them to return it to a Left Bank shop and retrieve what she bought. The shop is closed and this sets the stage for a long and complicated plot in which others attempt to obtain possession of the duck.
The novel is sprinkled with some real persons, such as William Shirer at the start of his career. And, of course, there are endless details about Jacques de Vaucanson, creator of the duck, as well as the Bleeding Man and the Writing Boy, as well as the silk loom, automates and tunneling under battlefields during World War I. The reading, as a result, is slow and, at times, tedious. Nevertheless, it is a well-told tale and, perhaps, worth the effort to plow through to the end.
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Posted March 24, 2013
Well written giving a taste of Paris in between World Wars. Just the right touch of historical people and fictional. One complaint Mr. Byrd has Charlie Chaplin divorcing Oona Chaplin in 1927. It was Lita Grey wife from '24 to '27. Oona was his last wife. Still a very good read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.