The Montmartre Investigation by Claude Izner
Its November, 1891. The body of a young woman is discovered at a crossroads on Boulevard Montmartre. Barefoot and dressed in red, she has been strangled and her face disfigured. That same day a single red shoe is delivered to Victor Legris' Parisian bookshop. Suspecting more that just coincidence, the bookseller sleuth and his assistant Jojo are soon engaged in seeking out the identity of both victim and murderer. In this third investigation set in belle-epoque Paris, we are drawn with Victor into the city's nightlife and the legendary Moulin Rouge immortalised by Toulouse-Lautrec, who features in the story.
I read the first instalment of the Victor Legris series, Murder on the Eiffel Tower last year, and found it très atroce. Unfortunately, I already had the third instalment rearing its ugly head on my TBR list, and here we are.
We followed the same format as we did in the original; bumbling around Paris in order to solve a somewhat beige murder, with the plot veering off to explore meagre aspects of Victor’s life which had absolutely no bearing on solving the crime. This was mainly centred around his irritatingly persistent jealousy around other men talking to his beautiful and talented girlfriend - yawn.
Again there was no tension, no suspense, no incentive to actually continue reading in order to crack the case. When the murderer was found, it felt very much like the part in Scooby Doo when the mask is pulled off and we all go back to our lives without giving much of a shit.
Also taking the lead from its big brother, the plot introduced so many characters, most of them dapper Frenchmen, that it was difficult to keep track. This was the main cause of the massive hole in my basket of fucks which led to them going missing all over the place.
The only appreciation I had here were Izner’s descriptions of Paris. I loved taking in the names of the streets, the sights of the Botanical Gardens, and Just generally wandering around on wild goose chases with Legris. This is due to my love for the place, and a love for the era, probably, and nothing much to do with Izner’s prose itself.
I’m very glad I have run out of Izner novels. Let this be a mortal lesson to never buy a sequel unless I have already read and enjoyed the debut. Bête comme ses pieds.