The coast of Normandy, France, 1894: A mysterious young woman is rescued by an anonymous man after a deadly shipwreck. Paris, a few months later: The body of a well-dressed woman in a velvet mask is found in the abattoir district of La Villette in Paris. Next to the brutally strangled corpse, the drunk watchmanwho witnessed the crime but was too terrified to intervenefinds a pendant featuring a black unicorn. Newly married bookseller Victor Legris is asked by an acquaintance to solve the murder of Louise Fontane, but he is initially baffled by the case. Louise was poor, so where did her finery come from? And what is the significance of the black unicorn? Within days, two more murders startle Parisboth victims were well-respected and seemingly wealthy, both have been killed in a similar fashion, both men's apartments have been defaced and ransacked, and both were members of the Black Unicorn Society, an organization bent on finding the philosopher's stone. Victor and his assistant (and brother-in-law), Jojo, struggle to draw the connections between the murders. And they struggle to keep their sleuthing from their wives, who frown upon their interest in mysteries. As their secret investigation progresses, they discover that in belle époque Paris, young girls with no money or background are as ruthlessly preyed on as ever they were. . . . Strangled in Paris is the sixth installment in Claude Izner's mystery series starring Victor Legris.
About the Author
CLAUDE IZNER is the pseudonym of two sisters, Liliane Korb and Laurence Lefevre, authors of the Victor Legris Mysteries. Both are second-hand booksellers on the banks of the Seine and experts on nineteenth century Paris.
Read an Excerpt
Martin Lorson was too terrified to utter a sound. He dared not move or even swallow, sure that the man must be watching him as a cat watches a sparrow, delighting in its fear. Would he jump out from one side, or from directly opposite him? Panic kept Martin Lorson curled up in a ball, shrinking against the railings. Was that creak the muffled sound of a knife being drawn? Was that shadow the fist of an assassin about to attack? Panting, he screwed his eyes shut and clenched his jaw. After what seemed like an hour but was only a few minutes, he managed to convince himself that there was nobody around. He tiptoed over to the woman, freezing at the slightest sound. He nudged her body with his foot. A corpse. As he greedily gulped down air, a medallion stuck between two paving stones caught his eye. Crouching down, he slipped it into his pocket, and noticed the remains of the cigarette that had fallen from the man’s mouth as he’d committed his crime. Lorson lit it and filled his lungs with smoke
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
VERDICT: Nice evocation of the setting, but too convoluted and many characters to be fully enjoyable. I was thrilled to finally try this series by two popular French authors (Claude Izner being their pen name). Plus, Strangled in Paris takes place in mostly in Paris, obviously, during La Belle Époque, and Victor Legris, the investigator asked to solve the murder of a young woman, is a book-seller! What is not to love here! I really enjoyed the evocation of the period and of Paris at the time (of the sea as well at the beginning of the book). It was fun to meet again some real people I bumped into while reading Occult Paris, and The Black Unicorn Society totally fit in the context. Related to this, some scenes were delightfully spooky. But the plot is quite convoluted and the ending disappointing. There are a lot of characters and it took me a while to get familiar with who is who and what the connections between them are. I also got quickly annoyed by the investigators trying to elucidate the mystery while hiding everything from their wives. Maybe it is that starting with volume 6 was definitely not a smart move. I can admit that. But as I have now read similar complaints coming from readers of volume 1, this is not too encouraging, and I don’t think I’ll make more efforts with this series, unless you manage to convince me.