Book Review: The Book Artist by Mark Pryor @MarkPryorBooks @SeventhStBooks

The Book Artist
A Hugo Marston Novel #8
Mark Pryor
Seventh Street Books, January 2019
ISBN 978-1-63388-488-5
Trade Paperback

The Book Artist is the eighth in Mark Pryor’s series featuring Hugo Marston, ex-FBI profiler and current chief of security for US Ambassador J. Bradford Taylor stationed in Paris.  The book begins with Hugo and the Ambassador attending an art exhibition at which, you may not be surprised to learn, a murder occurs.  Hugo offers the detective in charge the benefit of his expertise in solving such cases but his offer is quickly rebuffed.  Soon after, the detective in charge makes an arrest of a friend of Hugo’s but Hugo, convinced the wrong person has been arrested, sets out to find the real murderer and free his friend.

Unfortunately, Hugo soon learns about the death of someone close to him and also that the killer is likely after Hugo too.  Distressed for his friend, concerned for his own safety, and worried about another friend being in jail for the murder at the art exhibit, Hugo has, as they say, a full plate which is soon made fuller by the death of another friend.  Determined to solve both cases and stay alive, Hugo enlists the help of his boss but is it too late?

I only discovered the Hugo Marston series a few months ago when I came across The Paris Librarian and loved it.  I can’t believe I missed this excellent series!  On the bright side, though, I have six more books in the series to read plus, of course, whatever Mark Pryor writes next.  Lucky me – and you too if you haven’t yet read this series.

Reviewed by Melinda Drew, July 2019.

Book Review: The Sorbonne Affair by Mark Pryor

The Sorbonne Affair
A Hugo Marston Novel #7
Mark Pryor
Seventh Street Books, August 2017
ISBN 978-1-6338-8261-4
Trade Paperback

The seventh book featuring Hugo Marston, former FBI agent and now head of security for the U.S. embassy in Paris. Helen Hancock, an internationally famous romance author, is staying in Paris working on her latest opus and teaching a seminar on writing with a small group of students. She reports a hidden camera in her room of the exclusive hotel where she is staying. Shortly thereafter a hotel employee with a gambling problem is found stabbed in a hotel stairwell. When images from the camera in Helen’s room are found on his laptop, the police assume that he intended to blackmail Helen to pay his gambling debts. Helen has a rock-solid alibi for the time of his murder, leaving the police to wonder who else he’d tried to extort. Then a video showing Helen in an embarrassing situation, clearly from the camera hidden in her room, finds its way onto the internet, causing much consternation to her fans and upsetting her publisher. Two more murders follow in short order, complicating the investigation being conducted by Hugo and a Paris police lieutenant.

In the meantime the convicted bank robber from the last case Hugo worked as an FBI agent has managed to obtain parole and disappears from the United States. Tom Green, Hugo’s former FBI partner and current tenant, is convinced that the man is heading for Paris to obtain revenge upon them both. Tom is something of a hothead and Hugo serves as a brake on his impulsive actions, leading to a lot of dialog along the lines of “I’m going to….” “No, no, that would be (dangerous/illegal/not good/(fill in the blank)”.

Pryor loves Paris, every inch of it. The people, the food, the streets and parks, the architecture, all are glowingly described. The book is well worth reading just for the travelogue.

In an interesting twist, the crisis with the bank robber that would lead to both Hugo and Tom leaving the FBI is described in a series of flashbacks presented in reverse chronological sequence. That is, the scene foreshadowing a showdown with their boss over what he considered their mishandling of the situation comes early in the book and the initial scene where Hugo and Tom realize they are witnessing a bank robbery is at the very end of the book, while the contemporary crime is treated in straightforward as it occurs order.

Reviewed by Aubrey Hamilton, July 2018.