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Book review: <i>City Of Blood</i> by Frederique Molay

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the cover of the book

A Parisian art piece scanning decades is unearthed in its final incarnation, and a grisly discovery is made – the body of a man, murdered thirty years ago, comes with the art. Can Nico Sirsky break this coldest of cases? Because it seems as though the murderer isn't done yet...

The story

Nico Sirsky is back again, with his crack investigative team, this time alerted by the press that something was amiss down at the Parc de la Villette. It is the excavation of the artist Samuel Cassian's most famous work – a last supper of sorts, where Cassian and his hundred and twenty dinner guests dined together, and the entire site was then buried, tables, chairs, trinkets and all. Thirty years later, the excavation turns up something unexpected: the body of a man, buried in the pit amongst the dining set.

Firstly, Nico and his team need to identify the body. They research the park setting in which the tableaux was buried, uncovering the historical significance, but it doesn't seem to bring them any closer to anything other than the mind of the artist. They are searching for a dead man who disappeared thirty years ago, whose death they will be unlikely to prosecute due to the length of time involved. Suddenly, Nico has other things on his mind – his beloved mother has been rushed to hospital, and he drops everything to be by her side.

Dedicating himself to both his mother and the investigation of a thirty year old homicide seems gruelling enough for Nico, but fate has other ideas. A fresh corpse appears in the Parc, butchered aggressively with no evident motivation behind the crime. And then another young man is murdered as well, both picked up in nightclubs by a killer dubbed the “Paris Butcher”. Can Nico find a connection between the thirty year old corpse and the fresh ones, and stop the killing?

The style

Frederique Molay is getting better and better. Nico is such a beautifully rounded character with whom the reader can empathise wholeheartedly, and the development of his character throughout previous books meant I was extra invested when Nico's mother fell ill, because I knew of his relationship with her already. I appreciate the development of his character within a personal and professional way, and the story of Nico's life doesn't seem out of place within the telling of the crime story.

I also appreciate the research that goes into Molay's stories. The history of the park, the police procedure and processes, the theory behind the art and sociology of Cassian's artwork, and the motivation behind the murders were all painstakingly researched but also compellingly written. I always feel like I'm learning, but in a way that's interesting, which is a very positive reading experience for me. The setting is also very evocative; Paris entrenched through the entire story and the streets and parks and settings are becoming familiar, the more I read. The sense of place is excellent.

Finally, I appreciate the length of these stories. They can be read quickly, and while containing a vast amount of information there's nothing unnecessary in them. In short, another win for Molay.

Who is this book for?

For those reading Molay's previous books, City Of Blood is a must.

If you like this book, you would also like...

Molay has written four other books, two in this series. She is one of the best French crime writers out at the moment, so maybe give her previous works a go.


In short

Title: City Of Blood
Author: Frederique Molay
Publisher: Le French Book
ISBN: 978-1939474186
Year published: 2015
Pages: 221
Genre(s): Crime fiction
Review Type: