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The Crimes of Paris: A True Story of Murder, Theft, and Detection

3.62  ·  Rating Details  ·  427 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
Turn-of-the-century Paris was the beating heart of a rapidly changing world. Painters, scientists, revolutionaries, poets--all were there. But so, too, were the shadows: Paris was a violent, criminal place, its sinister alleyways the haunts of Apache gangsters and its cafes the gathering places of murderous anarchists. In 1911, it fell victim to perhaps the greatest theft ...more
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Published April 27th 2009 by Little, Brown and Company (first published April 3rd 2009)
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A few weeks ago, when I was visiting home for a family event, I once again stayed in a County Inn and Suites. And once again I took advantage of their overly trusting nature and stole a book from the bookshelf in their lobby. (Okay, technically it wasn't stealing, since their policy clearly states that you can take a book and return it the next time you're in one of their hotels, so if I'm ever in a County Inn and Suites again, and if I happen to have this book with me, I will gladly return it. ...more
Jul 06, 2010 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book fascinating. It talks about the theft of the Mona Lisa and keeps coming back to that theme throughout the book but that is not really what the book is about. It starts by setting the scene of Paris and the social and political climate at the time. It talks about art, and how it was changing, and the emergence of cubism. It talks about the life of Pablo Picasso and his friends and contemporaries. And it talks a lot about crime and how that was changing too. From the first time a ...more
Mar 30, 2009 Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
The Crimes of Paris was an interesting read and I was not disappointed. Furthermore, it was unexpected. If you judge a book based on its cover, then you will not be disproved in this case. Yet, if you read the back then you may be in for a surprise. The Amazon summary (and on my back cover) is: “Turn-of-the-century Paris was the beating heart of a rapidly changing world. Painters, scientists, revolutionaries, poets - all were there. But so, too, were the shadows: Paris was a violent, criminal pl ...more
Mar 09, 2010 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
I absolutely loved this book; it was completely fascinating from beginning to end. Deals with Paris during the Belle Epoche, including art, anarchy, and crime investigation, fiction, and how they intertwined. The book loosely frames around the theft of the Mona Lisa, and the opening description of said theft hooks you in right away. Fair warning, however, this book doesn't have ongoing narrative threads the way "The Devil in the White City" or even "The Worst Hard Time" do. (Both also excellent ...more
Nancy Oakes
Apr 27, 2009 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
The Crimes of Paris is an awesome book, not so much for the promised subject matter of the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre, but because of the wealth of information around that particular focal point. From there the authors turn their attention to the state of crime detection up to and of that time period, not only in real life but in popular fiction as well. Then they launch into some other famous crimes and cases of murder and how they were ultimately solved.

The Hooblers certainly did
Mar 26, 2013 Tom rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Do you know who used to live in the Louvre? Do you know when the Belle Epoque was? Do you know Pablo Picasso's real name? I learned these things in the first few pages, then the wheels came off this book. Thank goodness I got from the library and didn't pay $$$ to buy a Kindle version on-line. I was expecting a real crime story, the Mona Lisa was stolen, France's best detectives would solve the case. Instead I got a book about the evolution of crime solving techniques and forensics in France aro ...more
Jul 31, 2015 Neil rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What could have been an interesting book, has been rendered quite dull and soulless, but that is just my opinion. Much of the information I had read elsewhere, but it did provide an insight into the beginnings of criminology and forensic sciences. It was just that the style of writing, which was haphazard, made this a cumbersome read.
I have read most of this information scattered through other books, so under other circumstances it would be nice to have it together in one place. But somehow the authors have managed to make subjects which would otherwise be fascinating as dull as dishwater. I really don't quite understand how they did it, I can read very dry material and still enjoy it but this book seems to limp painfully along with no payoff. I just can't recommend it.
Nov 22, 2015 Lanika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, kindle
From what I can tell, well researched. Describes Paris during la belle époque. Deftly weaves together art and science, beautifully describes the current events and attitudes of the era. Narrative loosely held together by the story of the theft of the Mona Lisa. Parts of it were boring to me, personally, because of where my interests lie. Was most engrossed by the middle section about the cultural obsession with crime and the birth of criminology, la sûreté, and crime fiction. Actually felt sad a ...more
Mar 31, 2014 Victoria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Paris in the 19th and early 20th century was in creative ferment and in love with modernism—and the scandalous. In areas like Montmarte, “people went to abandon their inhibitions”; low-rent neighborhoods attracted people on the brittle edge of society; guillotinings were held at odd hours in the vain hope of reducing the crowds of spectators; crime stories were insanely popular; and real-life criminals and anarchists were hailed as heroes.

The Crimes of Paris: A True Story of Murder, Theft, and D
Jun 14, 2009 Earl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is really about much more than crime, but about a glorious and vanished era. The Hooblers take several sensational crimes of the period and show how they really symbolize something much greater-- the zeitgeist of the French Third Republic. The anarchist movement, the Dreyfus affair, the birth of cinema, automobiles, cubism-- all of these are illustrated through crime. Fascinating.
Aug 04, 2014 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was such a fascinating and completely captivating, charming, and detailed read. I learned a lot. Highly recommended!
Oct 27, 2014 Christine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
When deciding to read this book, pay close attention to the title - CRIMES of Paris is much more telling than the description on the book jacket. The book starts out talking about the famous theft of the Mona Lisa, which is why I chose this book, but it quickly dropped this topic and took us on a tour of crime in France.

The book covers everything from early forensic techniques to the first getaway car used in crime. There are some interesting components to the book. There are also, very long, d
Dec 06, 2014 Ellen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was chosen for my local book club. It would normally hit all my sweet spots : true crime, Paris, Art theft, Belle Epoch era... However, it was more of an overview of the culture of Paris in that time and the history of Parisienne police detectves. Yes, that was fascinating in itself. I was drawn into the real developments in the force, as well as the politics, art and literature, and popular fiction of the time. The authors are quite well at narrative nonfiction. I did not find it dry ...more
I thought the book would be focused on the Mona Lisa as the dust jacket claims; however, The Crimes of Paris offers a wealth of information about crimes, arts, and science in Paris -- all held together by the 1911 kidnapping of the Mona Lisa. It's an interesting concept for a book, especially since it serves a great scene setter for one of the most famous crimes in history, and at many times it reads nothing like a nonfiction book.

My only negative, and the thing that bothered me most about the b
Cherchez La Femme!

The Mona Lisa, La Joconde, La Gioconda, by any name was missing. For two and half years she was vacant from her vaunted position in the Louvre. Stolen! Scandal! Today we don't know or remember the half of it.

The story of the theft of the world's most famous painting is accompanied by a cast of characters that are worthy of the painting's importance. Small crimes led to bigger ones. The art world itself had connection to many of the players. Or so this book wants you to believe
MaryJane Brodeck
Oct 25, 2015 MaryJane Brodeck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love books allowing me to travel back in time. Add detective stories, art and Paris and I’m swooning. The Crimes of Paris is about the crimes that took place in Paris from the late 1800′s to the beginning of World War I. An intriguing tale of the darker side of a city, hums with a cast of characters, from artists, anarchists and aristocrats to street thieves and the foremost crime detection pioneers. The theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911 initially draws you in, but the remaining p ...more
Nov 17, 2009 Caitlin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
This was an okay read for me. I think I would've liked it better if I had never read The Banquet Years The Origins of the Avant-Garde in France, 1885 to World War One - an absolutely incredible and fascinating look at France during the same period, but in particular at the artists and writers who made things interesting there. I also would've liked it better if I hadn't read Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York - at this point it is the definitive template for how to look at crime in a cit ...more
May 29, 2013 Doreen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One problem I have with the true crime genre is the authorial voice. Oftentimes, it's too strong and interferes with the facts, which pretty much defeats the purpose. Fortunately, The Crimes Of Paris does not suffer from this problem: though the authors' opinions occasionally shine through the text, it isn't done in a way that distracts from the actual events or, worse, moralizes in its conjectures. Perhaps that's a result of having two authors? Regardless, it was a remarkably clean telling of t ...more
First off, thanks to the kind folks at Hachette Book Group for sending me an advance copy of this book to review! Keep on reading, there's a giveaway to follow the review!

I have to come right out and say that I rarely read nonfictional works, which is a little embarrassing for me to admit, but there you have it. But when I read about The Crimes of Paris I was intrigued and thought I would give it a shot--it would make a great review for Mystery Mondays! My initial reaction: I wish the book was m
♔ Jessica Marie
Jun 03, 2009 ♔ Jessica Marie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france
The Crimes of Paris is a non-fiction book, but you would not know it from reading it. The book is full of stories about the many different crimes that happened in Paris, not just the theft of the Mona Lisa. This allows the reader a look into the lives of the people within Paris. It shows how the citizens of Paris were fascinated with crime and longed for a sense of fear, Paris definitely did not disappoint. The criminals of Paris were aided in their delinquent behavior by the technological advan ...more
I did not know that the Mona Lisa had at one time been stolen from the Louvre and remained missing for a couple of years before being found and returned to its place in the Salon Carre. This book traces the crime, before during and after, and also examines in interspersing interludes, the many - surprisingly many - other fascinating crimes and high-profile, high-drama criminals in turn-of-the-century Paris.

The book is non-fiction, and while the authors do a good job of making real events intere
Oct 30, 2014 Jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good stories, but this book lacks focus. The theft of the Mona Lisa takes a back seat to many other crime-related topics in Belle Epoque Paris. It was an enjoyable but scattered read. Much like meandering through the City of Light itself, you will encounter the good (intriguing characters!), the bad (anarchists!), and the ugly (origins of detective novels?!). It's a good primer for this era, but look to other books if you want to delve more deeply into particular crimes.
Margaret1358 Joyce
With the saga of the August 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa from The Louvre as its central story line, this book engages the reader in a delirious round of tales of extraordinary crimes and traces the early stages of scientific detection in Paris during the 'Belle Epoque'-roughly 1900 up to the France's entry into The Great War in July 1914. References to the latter, understood as marking the end of known civilization, touch on the birth of modernism.
The writing is tight and filled with fascinati
Bill S.
May 12, 2012 Bill S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Starts off ostensibly with the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. But the authors quickly go off on a variety of tangents - mostly entertaining - involving other crimes in Paris and its environs at this point in time. Various crimes and methods of detection are analyzed as are scientific breakthroughs that enable law enforcement to stay a step ahead of the criminal element. The concept of fingerprinting a person arrested of a crime is introduced in case that individual commits another.

Jul 19, 2014 Cindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
interesting overview of a handful of notorious 19th and early 20th century Paris crimes. the theft of the Mona Lisa runs throughout the book. lots of background on groundbreaking forensic practices and on the often bizarre attitudes of the French toward crime and criminals.
Aug 05, 2014 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was reading it for crime/detection. What I got was a lot of information about the history of Paris, artists, poets and writers and what their lives were like. It should be more a history book than a crime
Jan 31, 2010 Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-reads
I picked this book up because it was about the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre at the turn of the century. I love books that deal with real art and/or artists wrapped into the fictional story. (suggestions always welcome) With this book I was slightly deceived, but very pleasantly so. The book talks about Paris in general and crime in Paris specifically, at the end of the 19th century. Anyone interested in CSI procedures and their development coupled with true crime stories would love thi ...more
Seth Lynch
Mar 11, 2012 Seth Lynch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, history
This book uses the theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911 as an opportunity to survey the crime scene of Paris 1896-1914. They look at the theft and then police techniques, notorious criminals, and famous cases. One error in the last chapter: they claim Dada started in Geneva rather than Zurich (I studied Dada literature and lived in Zurich for a year).

I read this as part of my background research for Salazar. It was a lively and fun read. I picked up a few interesting details which may crop up in the S
The pacing was strange. The long introduction was a bit of a slog, and spacing the Mona Lisa mystery out as the author did was vaguely frustrating, especially because there wasn't quite enough content to it to justify its prominence in the book. There were lots of interesting anecdotes (like Picasso's involvement in the Mona Lisa affair), the history of the detective novel was pretty interesting, and so was the stuff on the history of criminal identification (from pre-Bertillonage to fingerprint ...more
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Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler, a married couple who have written numerous books together, were drawn to this story of great writers inspiring each other collaboratively. Their most recent novel, In Darkness, Death, won a 2005 Edgar Award. They live in New York City.

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