Murder on the Eiffel Tower
Bibliophiles will embrace this novel featuring late 19th-century Parisian bookstore owner Victor Legris and his Japanese father figure and business partner, Kenji Mori. First published in 2003 in France (where this is the first title in a bestselling series), Eiffel is breezy and at times almost farcical, its setting the Elzévir Bookshop specializing in new and antiquarian books and first editions and the Eiffel Tower constructed for the 1889 World Exposition in Paris.
Have several people died from bee stings while visiting the Tower’s sky-high viewing platforms? Or is it murder? When Victor turns amateur sleuth, the list of suspects changes by the hour and includes his friend Kenji as well as the new woman of Victor’s dreams, the beautiful Russian illustrator Tasha Kherson (no matter that Victor has a mistress). This delicious novel flies through multiple viewpoints, including that of the much put-upon bookstore assistant, Joseph, who must deal with the “battle ax” who demands popular fiction and bourgeois couples who shop for cheap bound books to decorate their sitting rooms.
Given its focus on books and booklovers, one wonders why (as we’re told on the back cover) the author is given as “Claude Izner” when the series is actually written by two sisters who are secondhand booksellers on the banks of the Seine and experts on 19th-century Paris. The authors include an insightful note on the Exposition and the construction of the Eiffel Tower. Worthy of mention, too, is Isabel Reid’s admirable French to English translation of this vivacious and entertaining book.