Lucien Bertrand is given a very specific commission by a very rich man: make a hiding space for a certain guest of his client’s. Despite his initial revulsion at helping the Jews evade Nazi capture, he is intrigued intellectually and by the chance to outwit the Nazi occupiers of Paris. One commission leads to another, and soon Lucien is leading the Gestapo a deadly dance all over Paris.
Lucien is written extremely well – he’s not perfect by any means. His courage grows slowly over the course of the novel, his willingness to help the Jews built up in tiny layers. Herzog is similarly revealed, bit by bit, to be quite a sympathetic character and the way that Lucien trusts him without really knowing if he can keeps the reader in suspense. As do any number of other ways that the Nazis are about to catch up with Lucien do – at one point I glanced at the progress bar on the Kindle, thinking the remaining 21% were a bit too long if Lucien was going to die in this episode which seemed certain to result in his death, but maybe if there was a long torture, or we spent proportionally more time with the characters, or we followed him to Drancy and the camps in Poland…
The women in this novel were somewhat one-dimensional (the wife, the lover, the mother), but still well-written. Bette in particular develops well as a character – and this is something that AUTHOR does very well; weaving in different characters and giving them waxing or waning significance as the story progresses.
Belfoure conveys wartime Paris very well – the rations, the long queues for food, the black market in butter and chicken, the overarching fear of the plain clothes Gestapo in their fedoras. I found some of the torture scenes overly graphic – but it’s torture, it’s supposed to be, and it lent a gritty undercurrent to a novel set in a horrific era which otherwise.
Recommended, but bring a strong stomach.
Additional information:Copy kindly provided by the publisher in return for an honest review Publisher: Sourcebooks (ebook) Order The Paris Architectfrom Amazon* * this is an affiliate link – I will be paid a small percentage of your purchase price if you use this link, which goes towards give-aways and site hosting