The Paris Librarian (Hugo Marston)
by Mark Pryor
Cover Artist: Media Bakery
Review by Mel Jacob
Seventh Street Books Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781633881785
Date: 09 August 2016
Paul Rogers, a librarian friend of Hugo Marston, dies unexpectedly in a locked room in the basement of the American Library in Paris. Natural causes, suicide, or murder? Hugo must determine which is correct to stop a murderer from killing again and placing his own life in jeopardy.
Head of security for the American embassy in Paris, Hugo Marston is uncertain who or even what caused the death of his good friend Paul Rogers and wants an investigation. After all, why would anyone kill a librarian? The only motive Hugo can think of is the library's recent acquisition of the American actress Isabelle Severin's papers. Rumors suggest she may have been a spy in Occupied France during the WWII. Could the papers be a motive for murder?
The police find nothing suspicious about Paul's death. Hugo remains unsatisfied and begins his own investigation. While he visits Paul's distraught finance, he encounters a young man. Hugo decides he needs to learn about any relationship between those two.
A pinprick found on Paul's neck changes everything. Now the police must decide between suicide and murder. Hugo believes it was murder. What caused the pinprick is the main question followed quickly who and why. Paul was well liked by his fellow workers, friends, and acquaintances. Too, the locked room poses other problems.
Convinced the motive for murder must have originated in the past, Hugo tries to talk with Isabelle Severin without success. Shortly after his visit to her, a letter opener/dagger disappears from her desk. Was it the dagger reputed to have killed a Nazi officer in WWII? The only link between Severin and Paul Rogers is her collection of papers stored in the American Library.
Marston's patience and persistence are essential to solving what is in part a decades old crime extending nasty tentacles into the present. Misdirection obscures the motive and murderer. The mystery has sort of a vintage feel to it and lacks heart. The foreign setting and mores are a plus. The ending should surprise most readers. This is the sixth Hugo Marston mystery by Mark Pryor.