Paris in the Dark

Written by Robert Olen Butler
Review by Viviane Crystal

Christopher Marlowe “Kit” Cobb, a Chicago journalist and a United States agent, is in Paris in 1915, trying to figure out who is setting off bombs that are killing numerous people. America is just about to enter WWI, and Kit is amazed when he discovers we all make stereotypical assumptions blaming Germans for horrible occurrences. Kit and others have a sense as to who the guilty party is. He also falls in love with Nurse Louise Pickering, a woman who understands war scars and wounds beyond their surface appearance. She is supportive of Kit’s work without being interfering. This is a wonderful presentation of a woman who exemplifies the work being done by innumerable nurses and medical personnel during the war. Kit’s intuition leads him to proceed with his formidable investigative skills.

The story also reveals unique descriptive details of WWI-era France, with the carriages known as fiacres, the trenches in which soldiers endure unhealthy and sordid conditions, and the sultry clubs where Parisians, soldiers, refugees and others gather to discuss the horrors of war and their hopes for victory. All of these are minute but pivotal aspects that brilliantly work together as Kit solves the troubling crimes. This reviewer was moved by Kit’s personality which he displays, caring about the mental and emotional effects of conflict and related choices. Paris in the Dark is an international mystery thriller involving intelligence, moral principles, romance, espionage, and the passion for righteousness. An engaging historical mystery that is highly recommended.