Friday, June 8, 2012

Guest Review: The Paris Directive

Summary: In a Berlin hotel room in the late 1990s, two former French intelligence agents hire Klaus Reiner, a ruthlessly effective killer, to eliminate an American industrialist vacationing in southwestern France. Reiner easily locates his target in the small Dordogne village of Taziac, but the hit is compromised when three innocent people are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Enter Inspector Paul Mazarelle. Formerly of Paris but now living in Taziac, the inspector is charged with bringing his experience and record of success in the capital to bear on the gruesome quadruple homicide at the height of tourist season.

Both Mazarelle’s investigation and Reiner’s job become complicated when Molly, a New York City district attorney and daughter of two of the victims, arrives to identify the bodies and begins asking questions. All evidence points to Ali Sedak, a local Arab handyman, but Mazarelle and Molly have doubts, forcing Reiner to return to Taziac to ensure they see things as he arranged them. Little does anyone in the picturesque French countryside know how politically charged this crime is: its global ramifications, stemming from the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, could overshadow everything.

Tailored in crisp prose, this tantalizing and skillfully written thriller possesses all the luxury refinements of the best international intrigue. Jay’s novel chills, excites, and engrosses, pitting a smooth, calculating villain against an earthy, sympathetic Frenchman whose twilight career is suddenly heating up. -- Nan A. Talese

I have been in the mood for a good suspense novel and THE PARIS DIRECTIVE by Gerald Jay sure looks like it fits the bill. Since I've been a little swamped with life and books lately, I decided to pass this one along to my dad. I might be regretting it a bit after reading his review. Here are his thoughts:

THE PARIS DIRECTIVE begins in a Berlin hotel room in May 1999, when two former French intelligent agents hire German assassin Klaus Reiner to kill the CEO of a Canadian company who along with his wife is vacationing with friends in Taziac, France. The hit doesn’t go as planned and Reiner is forced to also kill the executive’s wife and friends. Reiner is characterized in the novel as a handsome, ruthless “gun for hire” that enjoys the finer things in life through his many varied identities.

Reiner must avoid capture by Inspector Paul Mazarelle who is the main character in the novel. Mazarelle, who relocated to Taziac from Paris because of the wishes of his now deceased wife, is assigned the task of investigating the four murders. Even though this area of France doesn’t see many murders, Mazarelle is a skillful investigator who has solved many crimes in his long career in Paris. Mazarelle is a great characterization of an overweight French cop is the later years of his career. It’s easy to picture Inspector Mazarelle, the Frenchman, smoking one of his many pipes while analyzing the case, excessively drinking coffee, taking his mid-day alcoholic beverage and feasting on such treats as duck confit with orange sauce.

The third significant character is New York City District Attorney, Molly Reece, the daughter of two of the victims. Molly flies to France to identify the bodies and decides to stay and follow the investigation. Because of Molly’s background and inquisitive nature, she complicates matters for both Mazarelle and Reiner. Of course, Molly is not only intelligent but beautiful.

Supporting characters are as you would imagine: the embassy employee who may also be an undercover agent, the bumbling lazy French cops, the poor minority worker who is a suspect and the restaurant and bakery owners and workers who represent the typical small French village residents. The picturesque French village and the French attention to fine food are also well described throughout the novel. The author, who uses the pen name Gerald Jay, also includes some real life incidents like the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and a German-England league championship soccer game as background in the novel.

The evidence points to handyman, Ali Sedak, who is arrested for the crime. Ali Sedak is an Arab who has a child with a French woman. The author uses this character’s situation to display one view of the socio-economic plight of people like Sedak and the racial bias that exists in France. Neither Mazarelle nor Molly is convinced that Sedak is guilty and continue to pursue other leads.

 Overriding the crime itself is the worldwide political game that is playing out. It involves an international company, the U.S. Embassy in France, and the France-China relationship which is strained after the China embassy bombing.

THE PARIS DIRECTIVE is a well paced thriller that matches a skillful French investigator in the waning years of his career against a ruthless cold blooded assassin. The story moves along nicely as Mazarelle methodically follows the clues available to him. As the story lines are brought to conclusions, the reader is in for a few surprises. If you are a fan of thriller novels, you’ll enjoy THE PARIS DIRECTIVE.

Thanks to Booking Pap Pap for his guest review and to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


Amritorupa Kanjilal said...

Very, very intriguing!

Do visit BTW!

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

this sounds really good!