Murder on the Eiffel Tower

“He couldn’t explain his determination to get involved in this business. Did he just want to prove he was wrong to suspect his nearest and dearest? Was he trying to establish Kenji’s innocence? Or wasn’t it more a simple desire to impress everyone?”

First of all, I absolutely  love the cover of Murder on the Eiffel Tower, by Claude Izner (pseudonym for two sisters). I didn’t absolutely love the book, partly because it wasn’t quite what I expected, but I did enjoy it and it was a good follow up to Black Elk in Paris.

The newly unveiled Eiffel Tower is the center of attention of the 1889 World Exhibition in Paris, for more reasons than one when a woman suddenly dies from a bee sting. The press seems skeptical that a sting would cause instantaneous death, especially when it happens again. But if not, who or what is causing it, and why? Bookseller Victor Legris, friend to the newspaper following the story, gets caught up in it when those around him begin to act suspiciously. His business partner Kenji Mori seems to be hiding something, while newspaper illustrator Tasha is always at the scene of the crime. Victor must unravel the web of connections to reveal the true criminal mastermind.

I was expecting a classic-type mystery, whereas Murder on the Eiffel Tower falls much more towards the cozy end of the spectrum. And I think in some way that’s my issue with this book. If boiled down to the premise and slightly reworked mystery this could be a brilliant and tightly plotted novella. Instead an equal part of the book is devoted to Victor dreaming about Tasha, and spying on his friends just in case they maybe are involved.

Victor’s character is also somewhat immature. At nearly thirty he comes across as practically adolescent, which may be the case today but doesn’t ring true for a century ago. His relationship with Tasha seems fueled by intrigue and fantasy rather than any real sentiment. He constantly leaves the bookshop in the hands of  the assistant Joseph, and neglects his own health as well.

The book is not without its merits. Though I did figure out the mystery I was kept guessing for a while, with some of the twists. There is humor as well, especially coming from young Joseph and his interactions with customers. Above all, the book is well researched in presenting 1880s Paris, with details about the Exhibition as well as trends in art and newspaper printing.

Overall, it reads like a first novel–not a candidate for any “best” lists but still showing a lot of potential. Apparently three more of the eight Victor Legris books have been translated so I’ll have to look for them at the library. I’ve a feeling the mysteries will flow more smoothly if he is not investigating his friends.

This book, translated from French by Isabel Reid, is my third for the Lost in Translation challenge.

Published in: on July 27, 2009 at 4:53 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] Murder On the Eiffel Tower, by Claude Izner (French) […]

  2. […] as well. These are not bad books, just not what I was expecting: Chocolat, by Joanne Harris Murder on the Eiffel Tower, by Claude Izner (I was actually given a copy of this for Christmas as well, and returned it. I had […]

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