Book Review: ‘The City of Blood’ by Frédérique Molay

'The City of Blood' by Frédérique MolayThe City of Blood by Frédérique Molay, Le French Book, 2015

The City of Blood is a 200-page police procedural set in Paris.  The main protagonist is Chief of Police Nico Sirsky who investigates a thirty year old murder in a city park.  Then another murder takes place in the same park.  Are they connected?  Sirsky thinks so but he has to prove it and to do that he has to find the murderer.  Meanwhile, Sirsky’s mother is rushed to hospital with a life-threatening illness.  Will she recover?  And can her son continue to work on the baffling case with his mind so distracted by personal matters?

As you can see, there’s plenty going on in this well written mystery.  In some ways I’d compare it to the ‘Benny Griessel’ series by South African Deon Meyer, though Molay is nowhere near as good at capturing flawed characters with mixed motives.  But she is very good at the procedural aspects of police work and her interrogation scenes at police headquarters are excellent.

There are a few clunky textual errors, probably made by the translator (e.g. the confusion of two characters, Vidal and Kriven, at the end of chapter 5; “offense publishable” for “offense punishable” at the beginning of chapter 27) but overall the translation reads smoothly with only the occasional puzzling or jarring phrase.  Two potential pitfalls, a gay theme and a religious theme, permeate the book and are handled well throughout.

All in all, I found this a satisfying mystery that I was eager to get back to and enjoyed reading.  I give it three stars out of five.

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