The Bones of Paris

I had finished the third novel in the Lord Peter Wimsey series and felt like I needed a change. Not a big change, but a little one. I decided to stay in the 1920´s and in the genre, and bought the second in what I imagine is becoming a longer series about former US agent Harris Stuyvesant, who was the hero of "Touchstone" by Laurie R King. This one is titled "The Bones of Paris", and Paris is where we find Harris now. It´s been three years since the last story took place, his friend Bennet Grey is back in his cottage at Land´s End, and Bennet´s sister Sarah, who was also Harris´s love interest, has disappeared, badly wounded from the ordeal they went through together and needing time to heal, alone. Harris is hurt, but also understanding and patiently waiting for her to get in touch again. Not that his emotional loyalty to Sarah stops him from having one or two flings...

Laurie R King has a great
moodboard on Pinterest!
After going in circles around Europe, stopping here and there, working both in bars and as a private investigator, Harris is in Berlin when he gets the assignment to locate a missing American heiress, Pip Crosby, with whom he had a short relationship at the south coast of France a few months earlier. He returns to Paris and goes in search of her, expecting to find her in some arts or political commune, doped up by drugs or ideals. He reaquaints himself with the Paris of the artists and American expats, the writers (like Hemingway and Fitzgerald), the visual artists (like Man Ray, Picasso, Matisse, Dali, Buñuel), the models (Kiki, Lee Miller), he sees films like "An Andalusian Dog", and strikes up an awkward friendship with a police officer, Doucet, who is troubled by what he sees as a cult of death in the art community and investigating a disturbingly long list of missing people who were connected to it. As were Pip Crosby.

Pip had also been the mistress of a Parisian count, Dominic Charmentier, the man behind a horror-burlesque type theatre which he claims provides a release to those tormented by the memories and losses of the war. As Harris goes investigating the man and his connections, to his surprise, he finds that the duke´s assistant is his own Sarah Grey. Though she is hardly his any more, but turns out to be engaged to the police officer Doucet!

By now, I did find that the number of coincidences were a bit too remarkable. Or was it that what Stuyvesant was uncovering seemed so disturbing? I try to avoid books with perverse murderers going after women and children, and found myself so eagerly distracted from the reading, that when one of Laurie R King´s newsletters came in my mailbox, I started re-reading old Mary Russell stories instead of going ahead with Harris´s search for Pip.

I realized during this reading how much I like the way King can turn a phrase. I´m not really capable of grading English prose on a scale of beauty, but she is to my taste, that´s for sure. Finally, I pulled myself together and read to the end. Which was happy enough, but pretty hairy just before the finishing line, just as you would expect. And now I am knee-deep in "The Beekeeper´s Apprentice", again...

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