Tony's Reviews > The Paris Directive

The Paris Directive by Gerald Jay
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May 22, 2012

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Read in January, 2012

Set in the Dordogne region of France during 1999, this debut mixes elements of the old-fashioned police procedural with those of the international thriller, resulting in a decent, if somewhat unsteady, stew. The story revolves around efficient German hitman Klaus Reiner, who has been hired to eliminate an American industrialist vacationing in the scenic French countryside. However, the impeccable planner Reiner runs afoul of some bad luck, and his improvised murder draws the investigative attentions of local cop, Inspector Mazarelle. He is a kindly, shambling, pipe-smoking Parisian detective who moved to the (fictional) town of Taziac so that his wife might die of cancer in her hometown, and many's the person who's underestimated him.

The plot plugs amiably along as Reiner and Mazarelle circle each other, and the daughter of one of the victims comes to town also gets involved in the investigation, drawing the attention of Reiner. The supporting cast is as colorful as one might expect, including an obvious red herring suspect (Algerian, of course), an elderly Resistance hero turned town baker, a lazy cop, and others to round out the town. It's all perfectly scenic and fine, but it's awfully hard not to be continually reminded of Martin Walker's Captain Bruno series, which is set in exactly the same part of France in exactly the same kind of town. Which is not to say that two series can't share a setting, but the Captain Bruno series is simply better written.

The story suffers somewhat in the final third, as the reason behind the hiring of Reiner all comes out, and the reader is plunged into machinations related to the NATO bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Sarajevo in 1999, French trade with Chad, and all kinds of international shenanigans. It's clear the author is deeply in love with the Dordogne, and sometimes that comes across a little too richly. So, I'll be interested to see what happens in the next book, which should find Mazarelle back in Paris.

Note: For those who care about what lies behind the veil of the author's pseudonym, I believe the author is an attorney for JP Morgan Chase.

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