The Disappearance at Pere-Lachaise

Written by Claude Izner Isabel Reid (trans.) Lorenza Garcia (trans.)
Review by Tess Heckel

Fin-de-siècle Paris was a macrocosm of art, literature, dancers in the Moulin Rouge and lovers walking along the Seine. However, a microcosm dwells quietly within the borders of the City of Light. The cemetery of Père-Lachaise, the resting place of such permanent Parisians as Héloïse and Abelard, Molière and Musset, was kept in order by such old soldiers as Père Moscue, who cashed in on cemetery detritus with his shopping basket, unknowingly collecting a body or two.

Victor Legris, bookshop owner and serial paramour, was ex-lover to Odette, who disappears while visiting her husband’s grave, leaving her maid, Denise, alone in the silent city. With nowhere else to go, she reports the disappearance to Victor who, fresh from solving a murder on the new Eiffel Tower, eagerly senses a mystery despite objections from his current paramour. Also, Victor’s partner Kenji objects to his running after danger when there’s a bookstore to run.

Sweeping the reader through labyrinthine Paris, revealing habits and inhabitants with grim yet amusing realism, Victor’s story rings true. It is woven with real events of the day, adding richness to a complex tale of murder, deceit and a coveted piece of art.