Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Bones of Paris: A Novel of Suspense

I'm a big fan of thriller historical fiction, so when I read the synopsis of this novel I was immediately intrigued. It was a classic tale with Baroque qualities of a private investigator placed in Paris, France during the late 1920's. There was a promise of suspense, uncontrollable desire to stay up to read the whole book  in one night, and the delicious combination of stereotypical noir with an added twist of Edgar Allan Poe. However, even though Laurie R. King is indeed a very skilled and educated writer, the novel did not deliver everything the title bragged it would. There was little suspense to this story.

What I thought King did a very good job of was the point of view of each section. There was no doubt who was speaking or what they were feeling. She created these amazingly complex characters that seemed important and relevant regardless of being the main character or not. Each one seemed to have a unique backstory that made you feel something toward them, good or bad. The dialogue was also exquisite. I loved all the snippets of  French woven into the English, but someone who does not know French may become a little lost. Not everything was translated, but if you understood the scene well enough, the meaning behind the phrases would become evident.

The thing that I had a little trouble with was how the storyline was developed within the pages of the book. Even though it was very well written with an extensive vocabulary, there were many sections that seemed out of place and were slightly confusing to follow. The entire novel opens up with a character that is not seen again until the last third of the novel. Since it opened with him, it would beg to argue that he was extremely important to the plot. Also, there were several chapters that were there to set the background to the city, which should be important, but I am not certain that it warranted separate chapters to do that. The timeline of the characters would move between past and present, which was a little hard to follow at time. For the storyline itself, it would have benefited if King had cut out about a quarter of it. I think that it would have made it a little lighter and a smoother read. Remember that "sometimes you must kill your Darlings" in order to make a piece more stronger and I believe that King here should have followed the advice of Faulkner and Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch on that point.

Overall, this piece was quite heavy due to its topic of choice. That isn't a bad thing, but it made it a much slower read for me. I found my mind wandering as I read some sections and probably missed a few things due to that. However, it was very interesting and described a side of Paris that I did not experience while there as a very young, naïve woman. King's description is beautifully woven throughout this world of macabre and darkness, but I found myself desperately searching for some relief from golden sun.

If you enjoy novels that mirror some of the Gothic or Baroque genre then this is one you would not want to miss out on reading. But if that is not your cup of tea and you do not like heavy undertones of sex, then this book is not for you.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

I borrowed this book from a local library; I was not paid to do a review of this book.

(image taken from goodreads.com)

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