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The Paris Enigma: A Novel (El enigma de París #1)

3.25  ·  Rating Details ·  803 Ratings  ·  110 Reviews
In the tradition of Caleb Carr’s The Alienist and Eric Larsen’s The Devil in the White City comes The Paris Enigma, a gripping tale of murder and the art of crime solving. Written in a strikingly original voice, and poignantly evoking a world about to lose its innocence forever, The Paris Enigma features two detectives who find themselves in a race against time around glor ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 8th 2009 by Harper Perennial (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

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Mar 16, 2009 Karen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review-books, crime
The Twelve Detectives are a famous group of crime solving individuals - spread throughout the world. In the 1880's their exploits are well known - the magazine The Key to Crime regularly publishes the story of their investigations. Sigmundo Salvatrio works in his father's shoe repair shop, but he doesn't dream of being a cobbler - his dream is to join the ranks of the acolytes of the world famous investigators. It seems a pipe dream as Renato Craig, the only one of the detectives who lives in Bu ...more
This is something of a meta-fiction. Readers hoping for a richly detailed, atmospheric adventure occurring in the shadow of the new Eiffel Tower will be disappointed. It's not really about Paris in the 1880s, it's about the conventions of early detective fiction and the shift toward Modernism. If you've read enough early detective fiction (apparently I have done so, back in the days when I read a book or more a day), you'll recognize these conventions and the gently humorous use they are put to ...more
Jim Loter
"The Paris Enigma" is a beautifully written (or perhaps [or also] beautifully translated) novel that reflects on the nature of the detective story and its purpose as the Victorian era transition to early Modernity. As a crime novel itself, it is underwhelming but the main mystery is not really the point.

Pablo de Santis deftly weaves together all of the common tropes and themes of classic detective stories, literally putting them on exhibit, and then systematically dismantles them as the World's
May 28, 2016 Robin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, red-cover
This started off with an appropriately gloomy and mysterious Argentinian setting, and a promising premise: there is a society of the world’s most famous detectives, each of whom has one assistant, and they all are convening for the first time at the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris. The Argentinian detective cannot attend, so he sends his brand-new assistant in his place with a secret message for one of the other detectives.

I lost interest once the main character arrives in Paris, which is shocking, b
I picked this book on a whim at the last minute before the bookshop was closing, and was happy to find that it's an enjoyable read.

Imagine a world where detectives are always in a pair, like Sherlock and Watson, like Poirot and Hastings, where the companion is always the person from whose point of view the reader glimpsed into the story. The companion who, at the very end of the story, would demand an explanation of the whole case from the detective. Imagine a place where this "companion" isn't
May 21, 2011 Arabis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The idea sounded appealing "Twelve of the world's greatest sleuthes have gathered to discuss their most famous cases..." as did the setting of the Paris World Fair in 1889. But sadly, this one didn't really grab me.
Feb 04, 2015 Elvenn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good, though a bit slow paced.
Hada Pulgarín
Jul 11, 2016 Hada Pulgarín rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Llegué a este libro gracias a mi maravillosa clase de Intruducción a la Literatura y la idea de nuestro profesor tan particular. Debo hacer todo un trabajo de esto pero este libro fue escogido a ciegas. Cual salida pedagógica fuimos a la biblioteca y cada uno debía elegir un libro del que no tuviera la menor idea del autor ni del título. Yo decidí ir al estante de la mitad y escoger el libro de la mitad pero... no fue tanto así, entre unos 4 libros que cogí este fue el elegido porque, uno era MU ...more
Rowland Bismark
The Paris Enigma is narrated by Sigmundo Salvatrio, the son of a cobbler. His own career-path began when he saw an ad in a Buenos Aires newspaper in 1888, the famous (and only) local detective Renato Craig willing to share his knowledge and teach a select group of young men his trade. Salvatrio is among the chosen few, and begins to learn from this man who is one of 'The Twelve' -- The Twelve Detectives, "a group of the most elite detectives in the world". Salvatrio -- and all the others -- all ...more
Aug 03, 2011 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Paris Enigma is advertised as a 'Historical whodunit' set in the 1880's in Paris at the World's Fair. The Twelve Detectives, a group of well known detectives from all around the world, are meeting in Paris, along with their acolytes (assistants) to spotlight their skills and implements of detection to the Worlds Fair crowds. The story is written from a first person perspective, a Sigmundo Salvatrio, who is a cobblers son in Buenos Aires, who dreams of being a detective and joins Renato Craig ...more
3'5/5 estrellas: Me gusto mucho (SIN SPOILERS)
Hace mucho que quería cambiar un poco y leer un libro estilo policial, este no era mi primera opción, sin embargo, lo encontré tirado por mi casa y le dí una oportunidad. Es libro no fue lo que yo quería, algo sangriento, lleno de acción y muy muy crudo, no es sangriento, no es crudo y no tiene mucha acción. La mayor parte del libro era frases filosóficas, las cuales si bien me gustaron, eran aburridas. El escritor escribe muy muy bien, es medio pes
May 26, 2014 Jeff rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Paris Enigma was what I call a "just there" type of book. The kind of material you read because it is just there, i.e. in a waiting room, at someone's house, etc.
That is to say I read the sample and found it intriguing enough to purchase the rest of the book which became a let down after I had the rest of the story.
It is the story of the Twelve Detectives who are twelve of the best detectives coming from different corners of the world, Germany, Japan, Italy, etc.
With a young acolyte studyin
From my blog,

The Paris Enigma by Pablo De Santis is an interesting book; for me, sort of an alternative history of private detectives. It begins just before the 1889 Paris World's Fair, when Argentine detective Renaldo Craig opens an academy for those interested in learning about detecting--those who enroll believe he is going to finally choose an acolyte, or assistant. Craig is one of the Twelve Detectives, a society known world-wide for their detecting sk
Apr 26, 2013 M M rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This account of the development of the twelve Master Detectives followed by a brutal series of murders in the run-up to the inauguration of Paris's World Fair, you know, the one that unveiled the Eiffel Tower, is ponderous and pondering. The Paris Enigma describes a secret club comprising the top detectives of the world and their faithful assistants, and reports their petty machinations for power and influence, and discusses the classification and analysis of crime. The structure of the detectiv ...more
Jan 20, 2011 Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set against the backdrop of the 1889 World's Fair, The Paris Enigma actually begins in Argentina, where our protagonist Sigmundo Salvatrio becomes an assistant to famed detective Renaldo Craig. A founding member of the 12 Detectives, a society of the greatest detectives in the world, Craig initially plans to travel to Paris where the group will put on an exhibition as part of the Fair. But after the bizarre murder of one of Craig's proteges renders Craig a recluse, Sigmundo is sent to Paris in h ...more
Apr 14, 2008 Maria rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Todas las maravillas del saber humano se dan cita en la gran exposición universal de París, en 1889, una ocasión que hace de la ciudad un lugar luminoso, brillante, moderno, cuyo símbolo es una extraña torre de hierro desde cuya altura parece posible comprenderlo todo, explicarlo todo, desvelar el misterio.
Y a ello va a dedicarse también la reunión de la orden de los Doce Detectives, los famosos investigadores llegados de todos los lugares del mundo que han decidido revelar al público los diver
Carolyn Rose
The setting and time period were interesting, but it was a struggle to finish this book because, except for the protagonist, I couldn't make myself care about the detectives who seemed to be forever standing up and making speeches.
Mar 08, 2011 Baseni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: krimis
"In Paris finden 1889 mehrere Ereignisse statt, aus Anlaß des 100. Geburtstages der französischen Revolution gibt es eine Weltausstellung, es wird hierzu der Eiffelturm eröffnet, und die 12 berühmtesten Detektive reisen aus der ganzen Welt an, um sich in einem Hotel zu versammeln. Einer, es ist der Vertreter Argentiniens, wird durch seinen erst kurz zuvor ernannten Adlatus vertreten. Dieser ist auch der Berichterstatter der folgenden Ereignisse.
Einer der Detektive wird ermordet. Er sollte den n
Betsy Ashton
Pablo De Santis writes a throw-back novel in The Paris Enigma. Set just before the opening of the World's Fair in Paris in 1889, the Twelve Detectives agree to meet and share their secrets. Gathered from across the world, this clique represents clashes of egos, techniques and skulduggery. When one of the detectives is murdered and a corpse is found burned, the detectives try to outdo each other to determine who the killer is.

This is a throw-back in style, because it reads more like Arthur Conan
Oct 04, 2014 Nate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A medida que avanzaba en la historia me preguntaba ¿cuantas estrellas podria darle a este libro? Finalmente me incline por las cuatro.
Buena historia e interesantes personajes a mi parecer, me mantuvo en el enigma durante todo el libro salteando entre mis sospechosos y recordando ese viejo gusto de infancia que tenia por Doyle. Sin embargo, en algo fallo. Tuve muchos altibajos a medida que avanzaba, podia engancharme con la lectura y viajar a 1888 asi como suspirar por las mil anecdotaa y vaijes
Book Concierge
The Twelve Detectives – a society of the world’s top sleuths – are meeting at the 1889 Paris World’s Fair. But before the fair opens, a series of murder require their collective expertise.

De Santis studied literature and worked as a journalist and comic-book writer. This latter endeavor is clearly represented in his debut novel. The plot is thinly drawn, but the characters are as vivid (if two-dimensional) as the best Dick Tracy or Batman villains. All we’re missing are the drawings and a few K
Jan 31, 2013 Stefff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always had a thing for detectives. They can be so mysterious and intriguing, wrapped up in themselves and always in love with the unknown. That's why I picked up this book. (and because of its gorgeous cover!)
I liked it and I certainly don't regret reading it but I won't read it again.
I loved the setting, the dangerous and dimmly lit corners and alleys, the mysterious history of the Eiffel tower. Also the relationship between the detectives and their assistants was very interesting and nove
I have mixed feelings about this book. The story was woven around other stories. Twelve detectives from around the world gathered at the Worlds Fair to display thier techniques. Throughout the story, each detective and each of their assistants tell a tale about some crime they solved in their home countries. While interesting, it distracted from the main plot, which in the end seemed rushed. The writing was good, the characters well developed, but there were too many of them. I was lost by the m ...more
I did not read this book in the original Spanish, I must declare at the outset. I couldn't find the translated version (The Paris Enigma) through my Goodreads search, so I just clicked on this one. Perhaps I didn't look hard enough. Why are we even discussing this? Oh yeah, so you don't think I read something called El enigma de Paris...anywho...the book took a little while to get the ball rolling, but it was a fun ride, with 12--count'em 12!--(fictional) detectives and their acolytes from vario ...more
Marycarmen Knox
Setup in the late nineteen century, The Paris Enigma first tells us the story of argentine Sigmundo Salvatrio, and how he joins a detective academy run by the famous Renaldo Craig, one “of the 12”. Where he becomes an assistant, or acolyte, for the renowned Craig.
The second part takes us to the Paris World Fair, where one of the detectives falls to his death from the Eiffel tower, and all detectives and assistants follow the clues, and present their own theories on the enigmatic death of Louis D
A story of the twelve detectives in 1880 and their apprentices. The main hero is neither an apprentice nor a detective on strict terms but he manages to see and maybe help at the destruction of the organisation. Crimes inside other crimes. First with his mentor the Argentinian detective and then in Paris with the Paris detective. A bit of a strange plot. The first frimes are not important and their explanation is short and a bit hasty for my taste. The crimes in Paris occupies most of the book a ...more
Jan 09, 2011 Mairi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up at the library after seeing a recent release by the author at a bookstore. More reminiscent of Margery Allingham and Agatha Christie than Caleb Carr or Erik Larson, this mystery takes place before and during the 1889 World's Fair in Paris. I went into it expecting historical fiction, which I suppose, it sort of is but only in that it takes place then and not now and the 1889 World's Fair was a real event. I, nonetheless, enjoyed it. It was briskly paced and interestingly told. I ...more
Feb 23, 2016 Becky rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Drivel. Seemed to start out as a bumbling British detective mystery- was it supposed to be humorous? I read it because I saw it on a list of "Best books of 2008". I didn't get captured by the story, only at the end was there any "mystery" to solve. A far cry from "Devil in the White City", which this book has been compared to. The only similarity is the setting of a World's Fair. Too many irrelevant characters, too many insignificant "rules" to try to make you understand the tone.

Not recommende
Apr 20, 2009 Erin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think that my expectations were a tad too high for this novel, which is an homage to classic detective stories set immediately before and during the Paris World's Fair. There are some clever elements - the treatment of the assistant detectives is funny, but overall this is a novel that has a high opinion of its own intelligence, which I found a bit off-putting. Another central problem was that the Enigma of the title, upon which the entire novel revolves, was not a particularly interesting mys ...more
Mar 11, 2016 Louize rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
"Gentlemen, though we want to live in glass bubbles, to use pure reason, to interrogate witnesses without ever being interrogated, we are always surrounded by questions, and we answer them –subconsciously, through our actions. Through our investigative methods, we show who we are. It is us and not the poets, who aspire to live in ivory towers, but time and time again we come down to earth, and we reveal, without realizing, our worst secrets."

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A journalist and comic-strip creator who became editor in chief of one of Argentina’s leading comics magazines, Pablo De Santis is the author of six critically acclaimed novels, one work of nonfiction, and a number of books for young adults. His works have been published in more than twenty countries. He lives in Buenos Aires.
More about Pablo de Santis...

Other Books in the Series

El enigma de París (2 books)
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“I came to realize that detectives and shoemakers see the world from beneath, both focusing more on the footsteps that have strayed away from their intended path than the path itself.” 0 likes
“...the perfect enigmas, the ones that, at first glance, were inexplicable. I liked to see how - in a disorganized but predictable world - an organized but totally unpredictable way of reasoning emerged.” 0 likes
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