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by Mark Pryor
Seventh Street, October 2012
305 pages
ISBN: 1616147083

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Texan Hugo Marston is the head of security at the US Embassy in Paris. One of his passions is book collecting, and he indulges himself by buying some first editions from his friend Max, an elderly bookstall owner. Max is one of a number of booksellers who have shops along the Seine. The government controls the allocation of those shops, and they are often occupied for many years by the same individual.

Shortly after Marston's purchase, he sees Max being dragged from his bookstall at gunpoint. He is unsuccessful at interceding and Max is thrown into a boat. He reports the incident to the police, but they seem uninterested in investigating. Curiously, there is no one willing to report that they witnessed the abduction.

Against the advice of his employers, Hugo looks into things on his own. Meanwhile, other booksellers start to disappear. Working with a former CIA agent, Tom Green, they put together the pieces of a puzzle with a surprising answer. Marston finds that Max was a Nazi collaborator – could that have made him a target? Or is someone after a very valuable book? Or, more pedestrian, do the disappearances have anything to do with drug smuggling?

Hugo is a likable character, combining intelligence and good old-fashioned stubbornness in his pursuit of the truth. The other characters are similarly well drawn, although I did tire a bit of Tom Green's potty mouth—it seemed forced to me. However, he is an excellent partner to Marston. Red herrings abound, and there is no shortage of action. And there's a sexy, wealthy reporter who fills the romance slot. Where Pryor really excels is in his depiction of Paris in the winter. In addition, it was fascinating to learn about how the bookseller system worked.

THE BOOKSELLER is Mark Pryor's first mystery novel and the first in the Hugo Marston series.

§ Formerly a training development manager for a large company, Maddy is now retired and continues to enable the addiction of crime fiction fans as owner of the online discussion group, 4 Mystery Addicts(4MA), while avidly reading in every possible free moment herself.

Reviewed by Maddy Van Hertbruggen, October 2012

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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