Arty Homebrook lived and died in a world of sleaze which stretched from Chicago to Paris but never beyond the gutter.
He'd been sleeping with Madame Fulton, which is why Harry Fulton promised to kill him. So far as the Paris Police are concerned it's an open and shut case. Harry's father has other ideas and hires Salazar to investigate.
As Salazar gets to grips with the case he’s dragged reluctantly into an unpleasant underworld of infidelity, blackmail, backstreet abortions and murder.
Salazar is far too inquisitive to walk away and far too stubborn to know what's for the best. So he wakes up each hungover morning, blinks into the sunlight, and presses on until it's his life on the line. Then he presses on some more, just for the hell of it.
It's my pleasure to be hosting the blog blitz for A Dead American In Paris by Seth Lynch today. Many thanks to the author, Fahrenheit Books and Emma Welton from damppebbles blog tours for inviting me and for my copy of the ebook.
A Dead American In Paris is the second book by Seth Lynch to feature Reggie Salazar, a rather world weary English private detective now living and working in Paris. I've not yet read the first, A Citizen of Nowhere so can happily confirm that this sequel can definitely be enjoyed as a standalone. The book opens almost immediately with a murder - or rather with a murder scene because we don't learn whodunnit until much later in the story. However, at this point, the police already have a man in custody; on learning that his wife had been sleeping with Arty Homebrook, Harry Fulton announced he would kill them both. So when Homebrook is found with a knife in his back, it's not surprising that Fulton becomes the chief suspect in what seems to be a crime passionnel. However, Fulton's father understandably wants his son off the hook and has engaged the services of Salazar to investigate whether somebody else could have murdered Homebrook.. Salazar doesn't care much either way if Fulton Jr is innocent or guilty but he does care about justice and so takes the case. Before long he finds himself in danger as he learns more about the sordid life of the victim and discovers there are a few people who may have wanted him dead.
A Dead American In Paris has the Noirish feel of a Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett novel; there is nothing romantic about this Paris and though Salazar may be English, his experiences in the First World War and resulting PTSD mean his dark moods, hard drinking and heavy smoking means he bears more resemblance to Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade than to the quintessential Englishman abroad. The first person narrative makes for a fast paced book and allows the reader to experience the tawdry underbelly of Paris society through Salazar's eyes. Though he rather stumbles around the city, drinking copious amounts of wine and Cognac and smoking Gitanes or reefers, he has also has a more cerebral, contemplative side; he is a vegan, has recently made a vow to avoid violence - although he is not always successful in this regard - and considering the book is set in 1931 he is an enlightened partner to his girlfriend, Megan. She is a wonderful character with strong political opinions on what are still contemporary themes - women's rights, marriage and abortion (which was still illegal in France until 1975), with the the latter being particularly topical following the recent vote in Ireland.
The book delights in notable characters; Salazar's landlord and chess opponent, Filatre; his Russian immigrant friend, Mikhail, who supplies his reefers and has a relaxed attitude to fidelity in relationships; the really quite dreadful Mme Fulton, with whom Salazar has some memorable encounters and Chief Inspector Belmont who is as partial to drink as Salazar, even when working (and who appears in his own novel, The Paris Ripper). However, Paris is arguably the other major character in the novel. By 1931, the Jazz Age is coming to an end as the Great Depression looms over the city. The drinking, partying and shameless infidelity persists but what once seemed carefree hedonism now looks more seedy. This is the underbelly of the city, home to the outsiders and immigrants, to dodgy landlords and squalid homes. Seth Lynch evokes a Paris of run-down cafes where the air is permeated by the smell of the smoke from the ubiquitous Gitanes and Gauloises, cheap wine and strong coffee. This is a city which exudes violence, where body fluids soak into mattresses and between floorboards, where domestic violence occurs unchecked and women are forced to risk dangerous back street abortions.
Salazar's fragile mental health is deeply affected by this case - the growing body count, abject hopelessness of the situation and the ever looming threat of a return of the depression which dogs him give a melancholic feel to the proceedings and yet there is also sharply observed humour here. The descriptive language used is frequently a delight and Salazar himself is deftly perceptive, his sardonic wit and often insouciant attitude to rules mean the book has a surprising lightness of touch despite the dark subject matter. A Dead American In Paris, is a beautifully written novel, with vivid and atmospheric prose, a cracking mystery, brilliant characters and a shocking ending - I loved it!
A Dead American In Paris is published by Fahrenheit Press and can be purchased here. Don't forget to check out the other stops on this blog blitz, details are below.
About the Author
Born and brought up in the West of England, Seth has also lived in Carcassonne, Zurich and the Isle of Man.
With two daughters, his writing time is the period spent in cafés as the girls do gym, dance and drama lessons.
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