The Paris Enigma
By Pablo De Santis
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780061479670, 256pp.)
Publication Date: November 1, 2008
List Price: $24.95*
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In the tradition of Caleb Carr's The Alienist and Eric Larsen's The Devil in the White City comes a gripping tale of murder and the art of crime solving, atmospherically set during the 1889 Paris World's Fair.
It is 1889, and the entire world breathlessly anticipates the Paris World's Fair and the opening of Monsieur Eiffel's iconic tower. The Twelve Detectives—a society of the twelve most famous, compelling, and dazzling detectives from around the world—have been asked to discuss the secrets of their trade as part of the fair's lineup of events. The Twelve travel to Paris to convene as a single body for the first time, but also, if some whispers are to be believed, to debate the very philosophy that underlies their pursuit of the world's most wanted criminals.
But one detective is conspicuously absent: the legendary founding member of The Twelve, Renato Craig, will not attend. In his place he sends his novice assistant, Sigmundo Salvatrio—son of a shoemaker, a lifelong detective-arts devotee, and the only remaining student of Craig's famed Academy for Detectives in Buenos Aires. Salvatrio arrives in Paris, carrying a secret message meant only for Craig's best friend and cofounder of The Twelve, the brilliant, brooding, and fiercely competitive Viktor Arzaky.
When a member of The Twelve is discovered dead at the foot of the gleaming Eiffel Tower, the first in what turns into a series of grisly murders, Arzaky and Salvatrio find themselves in a race against time around glorious fin de siècle Paris, encountering all manner of secret societies, solving philosophical puzzles, while also trying to save a dangerously beautiful woman.
The pair soon realizes that the stakes involved are unimaginably high; they must not only catch the stalking murderer but also alter the fate of their precious brotherhood.
Written in a strikingly original voice, and poignantly evoking a world about to lose its innocence forever, The Paris Enigma opens a window onto crime solving's early days, when wit, common sense, and intelligence were the only tools a detective could rely on.
A journalist and comic-strip creator who became editor in chief of one of Argentinas leading comics magazines, Pablo De Santis is the author of six critically acclaimed novels, one work of nonfiction, and a number of books for young adults. His works have been published in more than twenty countries. He lives in Buenos Aires.
“Luminous...a tightly spun thriller...Mr. De Santis effortlessly incorporates important historical events (the building of the tower and the World’s Fair) into his narrative, as well as capturing the turn-of-the-century uneasiness over the emergence of the machine age.”
-Wall Street Journal
“[An] outstanding puzzler. . . . De Santis adroitly explores such issues as the difference between image and reality while providing intelligent and entertaining discussions of alternate approaches to detection.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“[A] beguiling historical whodunit . .. .”
-New York Times Book Review