The Paris Enigma: A Novel Hardcover – Nov 4 2008
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.
“Luminous...a tightly spun thriller...Mr. De Santis effortlessly incorporates important historical events (the building of the tower and the World’s Fair) into his narrative, as well as capturing the turn-of-the-century uneasiness over the emergence of the machine age.” (Wall Street Journal)
“[An] outstanding puzzler. . . . De Santis adroitly explores such issues as the difference between image and reality while providing intelligent and entertaining discussions of alternate approaches to detection.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“[A] beguiling historical whodunit . .. .” (New York Times Book Review)
From the Back Cover
In the tradition of The Alienist and The Devil in the White City comes a gripping, atmospheric tale of murder and the art of crime solving.
Paris, 1889: in anticipation of the World's Fair and the opening of Monsieur Eiffel's tower, a society of the world's most famous detectives convenes as a single body for the very first time. Sent in place of a conspicuously absent Renato Craig, founding member of The Twelve, his novice assistant Sigmundo Salvatrio arrives, bearing a secret message for the brilliant, brooding Viktor Arzaky, Craig's best friend and the society's cofounder. When one of The Twelve is discovered murdered at the Tower's base—the first in a series of grisly slayings—it falls to Arzaky and Salvatrio, the last remaining student of Craig's famed Academy for Detectives in Buenos Aires, to find and stop the killer. But what the two discover as they race around fin-de-siècle Paris—encountering secret societies, philosophical puzzles, and an imperiled, dangerously beautiful woman—has shattering consequences that will alter the fate of their precious brotherhood forever.--This text refers to the Paperback edition. See all Product Description
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Part of the problem was that the book description doesn't really describe the book, so my expectations weren't met. The only similarity to The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, a book I loved, was the World's Fair. The Paris Engima lacked the rich detail and history. The description promised a "series" of grisly murders, of which there were only two, and only one "grisly". Etc.
I liked the writing, and the main character, and when the story was being told the book was quite good and compelling. The problem was that there were numerous case vignettes put forth by the "Twelve Detectives" which had no bearing on the story and actually detracted from it. If the book had just told the one story, it would have been a really good novella, but a lot of what was there felt like filler, or the author wanting to put all his murder mystery ideas into one place.
Glad I read it, but I wouldn't rush out to read more of the same.
Arkazy agrees to train Argentine Sigmundo Salvatrio on detecting although his student is Craig's assistant. They work on solving Darbon's homicide, as the Polish expatriate fears more of the international alliance of Twelve Detectives will be targeted by an unknown adversary especially when a preserved corpse is burned.
Told by the intelligent yet lacking confidence Sigmundo Salvatrio, THE PARIS ENIGMA is a superb historical mystery that uses late nineteenth century Paris (starting with the still not quite finished Eiffel Tower) as the backdrop to an entertaining whodunit. The story line is driven by The Twelve Detectives, whose competition for top gun turns nasty as superegos explode. Fans will enjoy the dysfunctional exploits of the world's greatest detectives struggling to solve THE PARIS ENIGMA with each wanting to be the one acclaimed as the best.
The main character is a young man, sent by his famous detective mentor to the Paris World's Fair in 1889 to attend the meeting of the 12 Detectives. The 12 Detectives are the World's Greatest Detectives, embodying every detective stereotype (e.g. an all-action American Pinkerton with his silent, but all-noticing Sioux assistant, a British detective who reminded me strongly of Sherlock Holmes). They are all about solving perfect crimes, such as their prized locked-door murders, using scientific methods. Meanwhile, the World's Fair, and the Eiffel Tower in particular, are celebrating a brave new world where science and reason dominate.
Ultimately, the success of the 12 Detectives' scientific methods is dependent on the criminal. Without rationality behind the crime, the motives of a killer are opaque and untraceable, meaning that the unglamorous, disdained "crimes of passion" are more intractable than the classic "plotted" murders. What is the new human condition at the dawn of the 20th century, and are the methods of the 12 Detectives appropriate to solving its crimes? And more fundamentally: what does enigma provide that rationality cannot?
This book is well-written, quickly paced, full of delightful detective anecdotes told by colorful characters. He packs all of this into less than 250 pages with short chapters (2-5 pages). Yet, if you are looking for a classic whodunit, you might be disappointed. I was pretty sure I knew who the murderer was and I was right. The solution wasn't an astonishing Agatha Christie-type reveal. But if you enjoyed Caleb Carr or In the Name of the Rose then you should enjoy this memorable story.