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The “Bookseller” by Mark Pryor is the first in a series of stories set in Paris. The main character, Hugo Marston, is an ex-CIA agent and head of security at the U.S. Embassy.
Hugo Marston often frequents a book stall along the Seine, collecting used and antique books from the elderly owner, a friend of his named Max Koche. One day, while Mr. Marston watches helplessly Mr. Koche is kidnapped at gunpoint. After the abduction Mr. Marston enlists semi-retired CIA operative Tom Green to help investigate Mr. Koche’s disappearance. Before long, other booksellers begin to disappear, and their bodies are found floating in the Seine.
Mr. Marston and Mr. Green investigate the underworld behind the sidewalk cafes. The author nicely captures the ugliness that exists alongside the beauty of Paris.
Mr. Marston is warned by his boss, Ambassador Taylor, as well as the French authorities to stay away from the case. Still he and Mr. Green pursue their leads, and learn that Mr. Koche was a Holocaust survivor and later a Nazi hunter. Eventually Mr. Marston himself becomes a target of the unknown assassins.
Through such characters as an intriguing journalist, Claudia de Roussillon, plus Parisian police, Nazi hunters, drug dealers, and the restrictions that come with being attached to the U.S. Embassy, Mr. Pryor gives the reader the feeling of being there in Paris, soaking up its beauty and history.
“The Bookseller” is a fascinating mystery in which the city of Paris is a character in itself. The intelligent and charming hero, books, villains, delicious food, and a focused and hard-driving story line create a book that is hard to put down.