In the Shadow of Paris

Written by Claude Izner
Review by Kathryn Johnson

Writing under the pseudonym Claude Izner, two sisters (Liliane Korb and Laurence LeFevre) have conjured up a respectable and widely enjoyed collection of mystery novels featuring amateur detective Victor Legris. Both halves of Izner are booksellers on the banks of the Seine in Paris, and so their understanding of what readers love about mysteries, and about period fiction, comes from practical experience.

In the Shadows of Paris is, like earlier stories by Izner, a traditional mystery that features intriguing characters, satisfying setting details of late 19th-century France and, of course, a murder, with which Legris (coincidentally also a bookseller) chooses to involve himself. But this time it is against his fiancée’s wishes, for she fears for his safety when he is moved to find the killer whom Legris is convinced intentionally set fire to the house of his friend, a bookbinder, resulting in the man’s death.

The pacing is lively as victims accumulate the humor clever and suited to the time and place, and the adventure is to be savored. Although others have compared Izner to Agatha Christie, I was reminded of the Paris-based stories featuring Inspector Maigret, written by Georges Simenon. A delightful departure from today’s world; well worth reading.