by V.P. Chandler
As you may know from past blog posts, I’m often late to the game when it comes to reading a new book. Although I have purchased several of the Hugo Marsten books, written by Mark Pryor, I finally got around to reading the first one, The Bookseller (2012)
(It was my turn to recommend a book for my book club so I was happy to recommend it. Two birds, once stone, and all of that. 😉 )
*WARNING, if you read this book, you will be craving French coffee and pastries!*
It starts with Hugo Marsten, head of security at the U.S. embassy, looking for a book at his favorite bouquiniste’s (bookseller’s) stall. These stalls are set up for tourists along the Seine. Pryor does a great job of explaining what these look like and describing the history of the bouquinistes without bogging the narrative down in details. As with many things in the book, I was interested in learning more. The bouquinistes have been in Paris for centuries. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bouquinistes
While Marsten is browsing and chatting with his friend, a nefarious-looking character approaches and Max, the bookseller, is kidnapped at gunpoint. The next day Marsten goes to the bookstall, hoping to see his friend, but a strange ferret-faced man is in his place. The man says he doesn’t know anything. Thus, starts the hunt to find Max. Marsten enlists the help of an old friend, semi-retired CIA agent, Tom Green and they uncover a myriad of dark secrets.
While searching for Max, they learn that Max was a survivor of the Holocaust and had been a Nazi hunter. Is his disappearance related to that? Soon other booksellers start to disappear and their bodies are found floating in the Seine. There is also a turf war in Paris among drug gangs who could be involved. And Marsten discovers that his new girlfriend has her own share of secrets. AND THEN, “…as he himself becomes a target, Hugo uncovers a conspiracy from Paris’s recent past that leads him deep into the enemy’s lair.” (description from markpryorbooks.com)
So there’s a lot going on in the novel, but Pryor is masterful at juggling all the pieces.
And I’m happy to report that my choice was a hit among my friends. We were all impressed that this was Pryor’s first novel! There are a few of us in the bunch who are fans of Sherlock Holmes and we liked the Holmesian touches that were peppered into the story. By the time we met, via Zoom, some had already read the second in the series. So two thumbs up for The Bookseller!
You can find more about the series on Mark Pryor’s website.
And there he has an update on the series!
- The Hugo Marston series has now been optioned for television / film by Ivan Schwarz at Like Entertainment, Inc.!
- The ninth Hugo Marston novel, which is titled, THE FRENCH WIDOW, will be released on September 15, 2020.
Congratulations to Mark Pryor!
*I’d also like to add a reminder to please consider buying books from independent booksellers. The Bookseller, and other books, are available at IndieBound, a great resource for finding independent bookstores.