The Montmartre Investigation

Written by Claude Izner Isabel Reid (trans.) Lorenza Garcia (trans.)
Review by Sally Zigmond

This is the third in the series of crime novels featuring Parisian bookseller and amateur sleuth, Victor Legris. This time a series of nasty murders seem to revolve around the nightclubs of Montmartre, the performers and the clients. Slowly but surely, Victor pieces together the facts with the help of his apple-crunching, muttering, cynical and secret crime-writing assistant, Jojo.
I must admit there were aspects of Murder on the Eiffel Tower, the first book in the series, that didn’t impress me but I enjoyed this one hugely, mainly because of its dry humour which was either lacking in the first novel or I somehow failed to pick it up. More is learned about Victor and his immediate circle and I am beginning to think of them as old friends. The author (Claude Izner is the nom de plume of two sisters) conveys the fin-de-siècle atmosphere extremely well and Paris, with its leafy boulevards, its slums, cafés, railway stations and its night-life is richly conveyed. The crimes may be more ingenious than realistic but this is all to the good because ingenuity rather than realism is perfect for the period.

Where I still have reservations, it is in the translation of the dialogue, especially the rendition of slang, which is stilted and feels ‘wrong.’ I think this is because the translators are keeping too close to the original and aren’t prepared to translate more freely and are sacrificing fluency for accuracy. That aside, I look forward to more in this entertaining series.