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The Paris Directive: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Jun 19 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese (June 19 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385535481
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385535489
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 15.1 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 558 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,296,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Outstanding! The Paris Directive is a beguiling, atmospheric, and entirely entertaining novel that promises intrigue and suspense from the very first page. Inspector Mazarelle is a wonderful creation: a world weary, gimlet-eyed detective who must rouse himself for one last case. I expect to see him one day in the pantheon of greats alongside Poirot, Maigret, Brunetti and Zen." 
—Christopher Reich, New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Deception

"Jay’s entertaining first novel pays homage to George Simenon and his legendary detective, Inspector Maigret. . . . The main draw is the charming, indomitable Inspector Mazarelle, who enjoys puffing on his old pipe, stopping for cognac in the middle of the day, and dining on sausages and lentils or his favorite dish, duck confit, at the Café Valon. Mystery fans will look forward to seeing more of him in the promised sequel."
Publishers Weekly

"Gerald Jay has woven threads of police procedural, espionage, rural noir, ‘acts of barbarism,’ and Gallic charm into a story that will be a great fit for almost any crime fan."
Booklist, starred review

About the Author

GERALD JAY is a nom de plume. He lives in New York City and is at work on a second Mazarelle novel.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 51 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
OK, but didn't hold together. July 21 2012
By Dick Johnson - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Having read and enjoyed mystery/suspense books for over half a century, I'm always on the lookout for new writers. Since "Gerald Jay" is a "nom de plume", there is no way to know if he is really a he or if s/he is a new writer, but I"m going with the information I have. This is well written technically, and, though too much was based on forced coincidences, it started off well.

The characters are basically interesting, though not particularly well developed. The few main people moving around the French town of Taziac are pretty unique and, though he may have been given too many shortcomings, Inspector Mazarelle comes across as a combination of Poirot and Columbo. I'm still not sure just how well that combination will work for a series.

Halfway through the book, I was stunned by actions of one of the characters. I dislike books that take supposedly smart people and have them do dumb things just so the story can take a twist. In this case it was unbelievably dumb given the circumstances. The rest of the book became totally predictable. This caused me to cringe while reading; never a good thing.

Getting through the rest of the book was more chore than fun. But, finish it I did. Characters acting out of character does not make for a believable story. And, while some "coincidences" are bound to happen in the world, too many, involving the same people, and occurring in a short period of time (not to mention at just the right moment - but I"ll mention it anyway) take a book with an interesting premise and turn it into a book that's just OK. Per Amazon, that's three stars.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A game of cat and mouse in the Dordogne June 14 2012
By Maine Colonial - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Like most long-time mystery readers, I feel an eager anticipation when I start the first book in a new series, wondering if it will be an introduction to a protagonist who will become like an old friend, revisited each year. In the case of The Paris Directive, just the listing of the first few chapters provided a frisson of excitement:

1. Berlin
2. Élysée Palace, Paris
3. Hotel Adlon, Berlin
4. L'Ermitage, Taziac
5. Frankfurt
6. Dordogne River, Bergerac
7. Café Valon, Taziac

Ah, looks like international intrigue. Sure enough, we begin by meeting Klaus Reiner, hired killer, whose cold efficiency, bland good looks and fluency in German, French and English have put him at the peak of his deadly profession, with the ability to choose the most lucrative contracts.

Reiner's newest assignment takes him to the fictional village of Taziac, in France's Dordogne. The beautiful village in summer, with its cafés and restaurants, makes no impression on the all-business Reiner. He just wants to get the job done and move on, with the satisfaction of seeing an impressively large new deposit to his numbered account in Switzerland. But the hit goes wrong and Reiner has to take out four middle-aged tourists, instead of just the one assigned to him.

This is where our protagonist enters the scene. Paul Mazarelle, a former Paris police detective now living in Taziac, jumps on the case like a dog on a bone. Mazarelle had moved to Taziac, his young wife's home village, when she became ill, and he is now a widower who doesn't know whether to make Taziac his permanent home or return to Paris. Mazarelle is a comfortably large, middle-aged man with a luxuriant mustache, who enjoys his pipe, good wine and food, and women. But, most of all, Mazarelle likes to sink his teeth into a meaty murder case.

Mazarelle's investigation quickly identifies a likely suspect, but he has some doubts and digs deeper, mostly hampered, more than helped, by his men, especially Dutoit, whose job qualifications include stupidity, laziness, insolence, racism and habitual abuse of suspects and witnesses. When a couple of the murder victims' daughter arrives from the U.S. to kibitz the investigation and further inflame the interest of the already-annoying journalists who have descended on the town, Mazarelle's job becomes even more complicated.

An intriguing cat-and-mouse game begins between Mazarelle and Reiner, which leads to a tense and dramatic climax. Readers who enjoy inverted mysteries (those in which the culprit is known; not a whodunnit) should enjoy this story--though it has some flaws, mostly in characterization. The reader doesn't get a good feel for what Mazarelle is really like. At first, he seems like a shrewd, avuncular investigator. But later actions belie that image and we don't read anything to reconcile the differences into a fuller understanding of a more complex character. Similarly, Reiner turns from a coldly calculating and controlled, intelligent hitman into something quite different, but with no hint of the reasons for the alteration.

Gerald Jay is a pseudonym. Whoever he is, despite these stumbles in characterization, his writing is assured and powerful, leading me to believe he must have some kind of writing experience. Jay is said to be at work on a new Mazarelle book. I'm hopeful that as we get to know Mazarelle better, he will become an old friend.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
An entertaining distraction, but disappointing as a mystery May 10 2012
By Graves - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
The Paris Directive is a pleasant enough diversion about a murder investigation in rural France, but since the reader knows in advance who the killer is there lacks a sense of Who or why , of mystery, leading only to see how the police will work it out and what will they do to catch him.

When four wealthy, middle aged tourists, two Americans and two Canadians are brutally murdered in their rented farm house, the worst crime in the district since the 2nd World War the local authorities soon hand the case to Mazarelle, a former hot shot Paris detective who relocated to the region to tend his dying wife. Mazarelle soon proves out the prefect's faith in him by finding clues and discounting suspects the local police have made a mess of and is on the trail. The dialogue is good and the pacing, after a few missteps early on, good, but there is a problem with the book. You know who the murderer is.

In the opening pages you are introduced to a professional assassin who is hired for the killing and you follow him through his shell identities as he sets up for the kill. Since you already know the who and the when and, if a sharp reader, the why there is little sense of `who done it.' Instead it is, like those hour long TV detective `mysteries' in the 70's and 80's. The sort that had the reveal at the bottom of the hour and an exciting car chase 45 minutes in.
In a way this is the only disappointing part of the book for me. I like the pacing. I like the lead character and I like the development. Jay doesn't feel the need to lay out all of the character's life story when he first appears. Little things are revealed over time and it seems more organic this way. Mazarelle is no super sleuth, no Poirot or Holmes but a regular policeman with a good deal of experience and a streak of the anarchist buried within him, though I think it must be in the fictional detectives' handbook that the protagonist must annoy authority figures at least once every 47.3 pages or turn in his union card.

In the end I did enjoy reading through this. It was a nice distraction from other things and I might even buy the next one when it comes out, but if I'm honest the lack of mystery in the detective story was a disappointment.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Brisk but Ilogical July 15 2012
By Writer By Trade - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a rather entertaining twist-and-turny murder mystery -- until a most preposterous leap of logic that dooms this book to the scrap heap. You could drive the proverbial 18-wheeler through this gaping plot hole. Note: spoiler ahead.

The (well-drawn up until this time) hit man is asked to return to the scene of the crime and commit yet another murder to silence a relative of the deceased. Another murder of a high-profile visiting American will end the uproar over the previous murders?! That's preposterous. In reality it would fan the flames even higher.

So at this point The Paris Directive lost all credibility for me, though I read on through to the finish. Where oh where, I kept wondering, were the editors?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"Homicide is my life" June 20 2012
By TChris - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The Paris Directive starts out as a French police procedural involving a hit man, four dead Americans, and a disgruntled police inspector. When, approaching the midway point, the CIA station chief in Paris becomes involved, The Paris Directive takes on the added flavor of a spy novel, although one involving industrial rather than political espionage. Unfortunately, by trying to meld two different kinds of story, the novel fails to do justice to either one.

Inspector Paul Mazarelle feels miserable about his life, an attitude that isn't improved when Benjamin Reece, the co-owner of a New York art gallery, shows up at the police station in Bergerac to complain that his cash and credit card have been stolen from the vacation home in Taziac that he and his wife are sharing with another couple. Reece's housemate, Schuyler Phillips, is a wealthy CEO. A neighboring residence has been occupied by Klaus Reiner, a hit man who has been hired to kill Phillips. The job goes wrong and all four members of the household end up dead.

Mazarelle, a former Parisian, is unchallenged by his job in Bergerac until the vacationing couples are brutally murdered. While the evidence points to Ali Sedak, a handyman who was working on the vacation home, the reader learns in the first few pages that Reiner is responsible. Benjamin's daughter Molly, a Manhattan prosecutor, flies to France and (not surprisingly) engages in her own investigation.

The motivation for the murder of Phillips is a bit difficult to swallow but I'm always prepared to accept the implausible or the sake of a good story. I was more troubled by the decision of the people who wanted Phillips killed to order a follow-up hit to divert attention from the Phillips slaying when the new murder would assuredly have the opposite effect. Their plan to deal with Reiner depends upon a wildly improbable coincidence. Those two flaws in logic strain credulity a bit too much.

The Paris Directive tries to be too many things at once. It doesn't quite succeed as a murder mystery, given that there's no mystery about the killer's identity. Nor does it quite succeed as a novel of international intrigue, given that the intrigue is deeply buried until it finally resurfaces in the final chapters. Racism against Algerian Arabs in France adds an ugly note of social realism to the story but that aspect of the story is underdeveloped.

What did work for me is the character of Mazarelle. Molly is an interesting character but not a particularly convincing one. Reiner, like the other secondary characters, lacks depth. Mazarelle, on the other hand, is an engaging cop. A dejected man who has thrown himself into his work after the death of his wife, Mazarelle contemplates retirement but tells Molly that "homicide is my life." If this had been a more traditional mystery, if Mazarelle had played the role of detective and uncovered a murderer, The Paris Directive would have been a better novel. As it stands, The Paris Directive is worth reading for the chance to know Mazarelle, but not so much for the story.