Guess who's back? Booking Pap Pap! This time he has written a terrific review for THE CRIMES OF PARIS by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler. He came to visit me a few weeks ago and saw this book sitting on my desk. He grabbed it right up and said he wanted to read it -- I didn't really request it with him in mind, but... I think you'll be able to tell how much he really enjoyed this book.
Summary: 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 of all time--the taking of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. Immediately, Alphonse Bertillon, a detective world-renowned for pioneering crime-scene investigation techniques, was called upon to solve the crime. And quickly the Paris police had a suspect: a young Spanish artist named Pablo Picasso.... -- Little, Brown and Company
THE CRIMES OF PARIS by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler is a true story account of several sensational crimes that occurred in Paris in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The authors introduce the book by describing Paris during that time as the cultural center of the world as well as the epicenter of modernism, the revolution that was changing the way people looked at the world. For the first time people were seeing technological advances such as movies, automobiles, telephones, airplanes and railroads, among others.
For all the progressive aspects of Paris there was a dark side which included constant changes in the form of government, the violence of anarchism and the threat of common street criminals. Because of the Paris citizenry’s fascination with crime, the focus of newspapers, theatre and fictional writings was on this dark side of Paris. The authors do a good job of taking the reader through the development of fictional detective stories which often mirrored real life crime situations. Often the heroes of these books were the criminals. Sometimes the stories utilized current police methods and sometimes the writings created ideas that were later utilized by the police.
The Hooblers give detailed accounts of several real-life crimes to portray the continuing battle between criminals and the scientific advances used to solve crimes. In these historical accounts the authors chronicle advances in scientific crime solving methods such as toxicology, finger printing, body part identification methods, disguises and crime-scene investigation techniques. They record the first use of the automobile as a getaway car and the first police use of the car as a crime solving tool. Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler also utilize some of the crimes to describe the Parisian’s attitude toward female criminals during this time.
The most sensational of these crimes was the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911. Ironically, the crime was not solved by the Paris police despite applying all the new scientific techniques. Interestingly, Pablo Picasso was considered a suspect in the case.
Although the book started off slowly for me the action picked up as the authors began to describe the crimes. The detailed discussion of the Mona Lisa theft was well done and left me with a good understanding of the crime and the surrounding historical perspective. The other cases were excellent examples of how police work changed during this short time. I enjoyed the book and recommend it to anyone who has interest in crime solving, suspense novels or early twentieth century history.
A big thanks to Hachette for sending me this ARC and to Booking Pap Pap for his review. THE CRIMES OF PARIS will be available on April 27th.
Does this sound like a book that you'd like to read? I just happen to have three copies of THE CRIMES OF PARIS to share courtesy of Hachette Book Group. For one entry, just leave a comment with your e-mail address telling me why you want to read this book. For an additional entry (or two), you can blog about this contest with a link back to this post and/or mention it on Twitter. This contest is open until April 15th at 11:59 p.m. EST. I will pick the winners randomly and announce them the following day. This giveaway is open to those of you with U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only. Good luck!