Another complex case for one of my favorite detectives, Chief of Police Nico Sirsky in romantic–and deadly–Paris, France. The City of Blood by Frederique Molay has him dealing with a corpse that has been buried for thirty years while facing his mother’s health crisis.
This case is unusual and fascinating. The famous artist, Samuel Cassian, created art with his famous banquet tableau, which he buried three decades ago to be dug up by archeologists. The site of the famous artwork was once a famous slaughterhouse. The art not only contains the remains of a banquet frozen in time, there’s also a corpse that is possibly the missing son of the artist.
“Cassian was no starving artist, though,” the prosecutor said. “He made a surgeon’s fortune from his pieces. Then he opened pop-up restaurants and organized interactive banquets.”
“In the eighties he got tired of doing the same thing over and over and decided to have a final banquet,” Cohen said. “He wanted his guests to bury the remains, and he planned to have the whole thing dug up years later.”
The excavation had started a few days earlier, when reporters, scientists and artists came together to disinter the fragments. They planned to study the remnants and determine the work’s sustainability. It was nothing less than the first excavation of modern art.
“This is quite a scandal,” the prosecutor said. “Samuel Cassian is a prominent figure. The organizations sponsoring the event are going to go ballistic.”
“We’ll have to get to the bottom of this quickly,” Cohen said.
Time is working against Nico on so many levels it keeps the pace of the book at the breakneck speed. You’re constantly wondering what will happen next.
Once the homicide of the corpse is revealed, Nico and his team are relentless in their pursuit of the murderer. Though they have a body, evidence of murder, and all the elements for a court case, it’s possible the prosecutor’s office will consider it beyond the statute of limitations. While working this case, Nico’s crew is also dealing with a homophobic serial killer who’s cutting a chunk out of the shoulders of his victims.
When Nico’s beloved mother, Anya, is rushed to the hospital, his thoughts and judgements are definitely affected. He finds himself thinking of the old religion he dismissed from his life so many years ago. The introspection and the pressure from the case has Nico thinking about deals with the God he has ignore for so long.
Watching Nico pull the strings of this case together is like almost poetic in its symmetry. His guts lead him in ras directions, but the support of his team and his soulmate, Caroline, help him cope with the stress. As the case is reaching its climax, his mother health crisis becomes critical.
Back in his office, Nico called Caroline. She picked up immediately.
“Any news?” he asked.
“I talked to Dr. Fursac. They took her off sedatives this morning. Anya’s been moving a bit.”
“What does that mean?”
“It’s a good sign. It means she’s waking up. But let’s not jump to conclusions yet. We still have to wait. I’ll call you early this afternoon.”
“Thank you, my love.”
He could almost hear her smiling.
Frederique Molay has a wonderful ability to put in your Paris, make you feel the detectives’ frustration and motivation, and bring it all together for a satisfying ending. All the pieces of the complicated story in place, and you’re ready to go back to beginning and read it again.
The City of Blood is out today. I really enjoy a good mystery with a foreign locale. In light of recent events, it’s good to read a story where the good guys win.