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DIE AROUND SUNDOWN by Mark Pryor: Book Review

Paris in 1940 is on edge.  German troops have moved into the city, and Nazi soldiers and Nazi banners are everywhere.  Henri Lefort, a police detective, is sent to the home of Princess Marie Bonaparte to investigate a robbery; when he arrives he’s told it’s a triple murder, that in the course of the robbery three Bonaparte servants were killed.

Henri impresses the Princess, she insists that he investigate the murders, and through her influence he is transferred to the murder squad from the robbery division.  However, the next day Henri is given a different assignment.  The case that he’s assigned to is not investigating the murders in the Bonaparte mansion but rather the murder of a German officer in the Louvre.  And, because Hitler will be visiting Paris in a week, the German army officers who give him the assignment insist that Henri find the murderer before then, or else.

In addition to the quick solution to the crime that the Nazis insist on, there are other strange happenings.  Although the killing took place in the Louvre, Henri is not allowed into the museum to look at the scene of the crime.  Also, the victim’s body has been moved to a jail cell in police headquarters rather than left where he died.  Henri has his suspicions about the entire investigation, but he has no power to proceed the way he’d like.  And the clock is ticking.

When Henri returns home to the apartment that he and Nicola, a secretary at the police station, share, he finds her deep in conversation with the Princess.  Marie Bonaparte’s home is about to be requisitioned by the invaders, and Nicola impulsively tells her about a vacant apartment in their building.  The Princess, who asks to be called Mimi, proposes a trade.

She will take the apartment and bring wine and food to Henri and Nicola if Henri will agree to talk with her for an hour every evening.  During their brief interview at her home, she realized that he suffers from misophonia, or extreme sensitivity to pattern based sounds, such as someone chewing gum, repeatedly tapping a pencil, snapping their fingers, etc.  Mimi was a patient and then a colleague of Sigmund Freud, and she believes there’s a deeper issue than simple sensitivity to these noises.  Henri reluctantly agrees, partly because of curiosity and partly at Nicola’s urging.

Much of the novel deals with Henri’s service during the first world war and the issues that followed from that.  In addition to dealing with the murder inquiry and Mimi’s probing questions, Henri is being followed by a persistent reporter who knows some disturbing facts about his life, facts that Henri is determined to keep secret.

Die Around Sundown is an outstanding debut from the author of the Hugo Marston series.  The beauty of the Parisian setting and the fear of its citizens of the Nazis are in stark contrast to each other and make the novel taut and suspenseful.  And Henri Lefort is a fascinating protagonist, a man with a history he’s determined to keep private.

You can read more about Mark Pryor at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

2 Responses to “DIE AROUND SUNDOWN by Mark Pryor: Book Review”

  • Patricia says:

    …thanks for the review … except I don’t think this is a Hugo Marston series, isn’t it Henri LaForte?

  • Marilyn Brooks says:

    Yes, I said in my blog that LeFort is the protagonist.

    Many thanks for reading my blog.


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