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The Paris Apartment Audio CD – Unabridged, February 22, 2022
As you patiently await season two of Only Murders in the Building, cozy up with Lucy Foley's latest whodunnit. -- Parade
Exceedingly clever. -- Booklist
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Guest List comes a new locked room mystery, set in a Paris apartment building in which every resident has something to hide...
Jess needs a fresh start. She's broke and alone, and she's just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn't sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn't say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up - to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? - he's not there.
The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother's situation, and the more questions she has. Ben's neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it's starting to look like it's Ben's future that's in question.
The socialite - The nice guy - The alcoholic - The girl on the verge - The concierge
Everyone's a neighbor. Everyone's a suspect. And everyone knows something they're not telling.
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- ASIN : B09QNW62RH
- Publisher : HarperCollins; Unabridged edition (February 22, 2022)
- Language : English
- ISBN-13 : 979-8200969258
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,417,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Reviewed in the United States on March 26, 2022
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Some reviews have complained that the characters are all unlikeable. I disagree; I don't think any of the characters are remarkable enough to be disliked. The pace was so slow it put me to sleep, and the plot was utterly anticlimactic. This read less like a suspense / thriller and more like a YA novel adaptation of a Law & Order SVU episode. Before I elaborate on that, let's get the summary out of the way.
**SPOILERS START NOW**
Habitual bad decision-maker Jess steals money from her boss and flees to Paris to hide out with her brother, journalist Ben. When she arrives, Ben is nowhere to be found — but his apartment smells like bleach, there are blood stains on the cat, and the neighbors are acting suspicious. All signs point to murder!
After flip-flopping POVs and some saucy flashbacks, we learn that the residents of No. 12 Rue des Amants aren't actually neighbors; they're family. And the family business is running a top-shelf brothel. Prior to disappearing, Ben was writing an expose on the Meunier family. He was also hooking up with pretty much everyone (what a putain, hehe).
When Papa Jacque Meuinier discovers what Ben has been up to, he tries to kill him. Daughter Mimi (who is madly in love with Ben) intervenes and kills Jacque instead. To protect her daughter (who isn't really her daughter), Matriarch Sophie (who is also in love with Ben) covers up the murder. Believing that they are disposing of Ben's body, brothers Fake British Nick and Angry Antoine bury their father's corpse. Meanwhile, Ben is alive and well (and probably wearing a beret and eating baguettes and doing other putain things) in the attic.
There are some other awkward, low-impact twists thrown in. For example.. Fake British Nick isn't really British. Snobby Sophie isn't really French. Angry Antoine is blackmailing Sophie. Ben and Nick hooked up in Amsterdam. Mimi is actually the daughter of a brothel worker, and the granddaughter of Unnamed Concierge. Camille and Dominique run off together.
Ultimately 'The Paris Apartment' fails to deliver a satisfying twist. Instead of building thematic suspense, Foley relies on the subject of sex work to infuse her story with shock value. I found this creative decision to be in really poor taste, especially when she leans so hard into the Eastern European sex worker / savior protagonist trope.
For example, here's an actual line of dialogue from the book (from a character named Irina, who has a 'thick accent' and an STI): "I speak English. I'm clever. I want a normal job. It's not what I came to this country for. I came for a new life."
While a competent writer could handle that sort of subject matter with grace and finesse, Foley does such a clumsy job that it just comes off insulting and cringeworthy.
The characters in this book are all unlikeable, flat, and unsympathetic. Jess is the best of the bunch, but she comes across as naive, terribly impulsive, and not that bright--how else can you explain continuously sneaking around other people's apartments, extensively going through their things, and not seeming to realize that she can get caught at any moment? The rest of the residents feel like cartoons or caricatures: the lonely aging wife who traded her youth and beauty for money, the isolated young daughter who yearns to break free of her introverted exterior and live out her fantasies, the repressed son who could never please his demanding father... I just found it boring and trite. The pacing also was too slow. "Where is Ben?" is really the biggest question or mystery, and there seems to be no real sense of urgency about finding the answer to that question. The biggest feelings of tension come when Jess is snooping through other people's apartments because she always takes forever to do it when someone could walk in on her--that's not tension, that's frustration at Jess being dumb. And the setting is odd. For making such a big deal about this being in Paris, it doesn't really feel like Paris plays that big of a role in the story. Although Jess feels isolated and alone, the setting could be anywhere in the world. It is the apartment BUILDING that is the big factor in the book.
At about half-way through I just really got fed up with the characters, and then they began to commit some really despicable actions with no real explanations. Instead of being intrigued I was repelled. I began skimming, trying to find some action and something interesting. I am now about 3/4 through and am really trying to decide if I want to finish it or not, because I really don't care what happened to Ben, what will happen to the rest of the inhabitants of the building, and although I do care a bit about Jess, she also makes terrible decisions, so she might deserve whatever happens to her.
I suppose if I do end up finishing the book I will update this, but at this point, I would not recommend this book at all. The Guest List was great. This one is not.
UPDATE: I did finish it, but my opinion has not changed. Things finally got interesting around 90%, but it was too little, too late.
Top reviews from other countries
Lucy Foley has become one of a number of contemporary mystery writers, along with the likes of Ruth Ware and C.L. Taylor, who can be relied upon to consistently produce high quality, well-plotted, entertaining novels. Her latest offering, "The Paris Apartment" is no exception. If you enjoyed her previous mystery thrillers, "The Hunting Party" and "The Guest List" there is every chance that this will also meet with your approval.
I have seen this described as 'a classic whodunnit', but in common with her previous work, I would suggest that it would perhaps be equally fitting to call it "a whydunnit" or possibly even "a whodunnwhat". There are certainly elements of "The Paris Apartment" that are very much in the classic murder mystery tradition: We have a predominantly enclosed setting and a clearly defined cast of characters. Each of the key protagonists has a hidden history, with secrets that they wish to keep, that could easily serve as their motivation for "doing the deed".
The enclosed setting here is the eponymous Paris apartment - an impressive residence in a desirable and sought-after part of the city. It provides a backdrop that is both suitably atmospheric and in keeping with the essence of a "Golden Age" mystery, but one that simultaneously offers a refreshing alternative to the British country house or secluded hotel.
The dramatis personae are made up of the troubled Jess - who has arrived in Paris to stay with her half-brother, Ben - and the residents of the apartment, who are Ben's neighbours. The narrative is presented from the viewpoint of each of the key characters and Lucy Foley generally does a fine job of giving each one a distinct and credible voice.
A traditional "Golden Age" mystery would tend to see the crime committed in the first half of the book, with the remainder concerning itself with solving the mystery and working out who the perpetrator may be. However, as was the case with her previous novel, "The Guest List", the actual deed does not come to light until much deeper into the telling of the story. Far more time is devoted to the idea of who may have done "something" and why certain individuals may have had motive to do various "somethings" depending upon events and developments. Lucy Foley is becoming increasingly adept at this, as she gradually allows backstories to emerge and reveal their relevance to later events.
The only aspect of the book that I found slightly disappointing was the closing section. I felt that the impressive foundation that had been established and built upon throughout the novel warranted a stronger finish, but other readers may feel differently. Nonetheless, this is another fine piece of work from the pen of Lucy Foley that I would happily recommend.
This book had many wow moments with lots of unexpected twists and turns. I was so excited to read the book in one sitting. A Lucy Foley trait, I could not put this book down. Each chapter sprinkles intrigue all over and leaves you hanging, anticipating getting to that POV as it cycle through the characters.
A true joy to read Lucy Foley in 2022.
A must read for all thriller fans.
A predicted 5 star read that was totally 5 full stars.
#netgalley #LucyFoley #TheParisApartment #5starreads #newin2022
First issue (which I hope will be addressed in future): this book is absolutely RIDDLED with typos. I don't think I've seen such a poor proofreading job outside of self published works. Every time I'd come across a missing word or faulty autocorrect, it took me straight out of the novel.
Secondly, the story itself is slow and -- despite the ostensibly glamourous setting -- oh so dreary! I hated every second I was trapped in this awful building, with all these awful people!
The 'twists' are largely based on implausible premises that just feel like clumsy plot devices, with no purpose other than to deceive the reader (though ironically enough, they're also all pretty predictable). Proper editorial scrutiny could have done wonders here as well, in terms of laying better foundations for the 'reveals', and making sure they make sense within the world of the novel.
Well, I was completely wrong, and within a few pages I was absolutely hooked. It offered an intriguing suspense story, offered from several different characters’ perspective and full of surprising plot twists. As a consequence, I read her next novel, The Guest List, which I found equally entertaining,
The Paris Apartment follows a similar format, with the story revealed in narratives from various characters, and there is a copious offering of tangential plot twists. The story is well put together, and the reader quickly builds up an empathy for Jess, the lead protagonist, who has fled from her chaotic life in Brighton to spend some time with her half-brother Benjamin, who has recently moved into a chic apartment in a building in one of the smarter areas of Paris. When she arrives there, however, there is no sign of Benjamin, and she finds that the other inhabitants of the building are far from welcoming of this English stranger.
Jess is certainly a great character – resourceful and stalwart, and showing a great capacity to rebound from the numerous adversities that life has thrown her way. However, I was less convinced by any of the other characters. Similarly, I found the plot slightly less coherent than those of her previous books. I felt almost as if the writer was more concerned with surprising the reader than in developing a strong story.
But despite those slight misgivings, I still enjoyed the book, and its grip was such that I kept reading far later than I should have done. If I had read this one first, I would still have been keen to find any other books that Ms Foley had written. It simply lacked a little of the stellar impact of the earlier two.