“The Paris Apartment” by Lucy Allen is the first detective, or as Goodreads’ description puts it “locked mystery-thriller” that I read in a while. I used to read a lot of detective stories in high school and through university – I probably went through all Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. No wonder my dog is called Sherlock! “The Paris Apartment” had its appeal for an interesting detective story but for me, it ended lacking some mastery in writing.
The story’s protagonist Jess has just quit her job in England and came over to stay with her half-brother Ben in Paris. When she arrives late in the evening, Ben is nowhere to be found. Jess manages to get in the apartment but in the following days, Ben still does not appear so she takes the task of investigating what happened to him by starting with talking with mysterious neighbors that inhabit the building. From there, the game is on.
I think the story was engaging enough and even though I read it fast, I found the first part of the book lacking. More precisely, it felt like either thing were too obvious or there were not any hints dropping for some time. What I love about reading Agatha Christie, for instance, is that you rarely know how the book will end. She was so masterful in keeping the balance between mystery, and suspense and feeding you the hints that I was raking my brains until the last pages of her books. I did not get the same feeling with “The Paris Apartment”.
As a side note, the characters’ build-up was not always very clear either. For instance, we know that the main character Jess had witnessed her mother’s suicide which is given as an explanation for her recklessness but these kinds of flashbacks were weirdly built into the story. I thought it was good and definitely had potential but I did not think it was excellent. Anyway, it does make for an entertaining read.
“I suppose I could have gone and stopped her. Should have done. But confrontation is not my style. I have learned that watching is the more powerful weapon. And it had a feeling of inevitability, here being here. I could see her determination. She would somehow have found her way in, no matter what I did try to prevent her.”
On to the next read!