Review Blog

Apr 20 2009

The Paris enigma by Pablo De Santis (translated from Spanish by Mara Lethem)

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HarperCollins, 2009.
(Ages 14+) When the world's twelve greatest detectives converge on Paris to discuss their most famous cases, prior to the Paris World Fair of 1889, problems are sure to arise as their jealousies, paranoia and general mistrust of each other boil to the surface. When one of their number is killed, Viktor Arzarky takes the case, sending out his new assistant, Sigmundo Salvarto to follow up some of the clues he has unearthed. Sigmundo, however is not all that he seems. He is the assistant to the world renowned Argentinean detective, Renato Craig, who on becoming ill has sent Sigmundo to Paris in his place. He has never left Buenos Aires before, let alone travel to a new country. His position as Craig's assistant was beyond anything he dreamt and when in Paris he finds himself assisting the renowned Arzacky, he is overwhelmed.
With the constant attacks on the building of the Eiffel Tower, suspicion points to the attackers, a crypto Christian organisation who do not want change, and so the detectives pursue a circuitous route in solving this crime. Just when they are about to bring all the clues together, there is another murder. The twists and turns taken in this novel will suit the most hardened crime fiction reader, and the setting is intoxicating, especially so when the time is 1889. With overtures of Sherlock Homes, and the continuing philosophical discussions about what is behind detection, this is a most unusual crime story. For those readers wanting an involving and very different story to read, then this may fit the bill.
Fran Knight

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