When I requested an advance reader copy of David King’s Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris, I thought it was fiction. I had no idea this was a true story, which makes it even more of a chilling read. Are you fascinated by serial killers? Then this is quite likely a book you’ll want to read and you might win a copy! The publisher has given us 2 copies to give away to 2 lucky readers!
The Review: First let me say that the research done on this book is amazing and it shows on every page, and not like some dry academic recitation. I keep wanting to call this book a novel because it reads like some of the best fiction thrillers I’ve ever read but unfortunately it’s real. Although the police files on the main suspect have been classified and kept secret since the trial, David King got access to those files and to many new sources of information, which he used to provide us with a gripping and horrifying story.
Dr. Marcel Petiot was such a respected member of society in his village of Villeneuve-sur-Yonne that he became its mayor in the 1920’s in a landslide victory. He was known for his many kindnesses, including providing low-cost and sometimes free medical care for the poor. Later, however, he polarized the town, was accused of stealing and did not win a re-election.
Little did anyone know that Petiot was also a serial killer. He did not become suspected of murdering countless victims until 1944, when he made an error. He left a fire burning in the furnace of an unoccupied townhouse in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, which resulted in extremely thick black smoke and a horrible odor permeating the area. Neighbors contacted the police and fire department, who discovered partially burned human body parts in the furnace.
“A thick black smoke streamed in Jacques and Andree Marcais’ fifth-floor apartment at 22 rue Le Sueur in the heart of Paris’ fashionable 16th arrondissement. The smoke had begun five days before, but now, in the unusually warm weather, it was getting worse, seeping through closed windows and soiling the furniture. In the air was a nauseating smell described variously as burnt caramel, burnt rubber or burnt roast of a poor quality.”
Although Petiot was finally charged with 27 murders, he was suspected of committing well over 100 murders. During the time that the Nazis occupied Paris, people disappeared on a regular basis either because of the roundups or because they had quietly fled Paris in the night, so it was much easier for a serial killer to operate with impunity as long as he was adept, as Petiot was, in getting rid of the bodies. For that reason, the total number of people Petiot murdered may never be known.
David King does an admirable job of pulling together all of the disparate pieces of information about these crimes and the three-ring circus that the trial evolved into. He not only traces the investigation but also gives us insight into the lives of at least some of the victims, as well as the life of Petiot. It was hard for me to read about a serial killer loose in Paris during a time when so much horror was already loose there. At the same time, it makes a nasty kind of sense that it was the perfect time for a serial killer to go undetected. I also became very frustrated with the travesty that was Petiot’s trial.
“Petiot smiled to the jury and audience. One journalist thought he looked like an actor, an artist, or a pianist; another quipped that he looked like the ‘devil’s poet.’ Petiot’s black ‘piercing eyes’ gave even the hardened forensic expert Professor Rene Piedelievre the chills.”
David King paints an eye-opening portrait of what Paris was like during that time, which I found fascinating. If you in turn are fascinated by the criminal mind, by real serial killers, then this book will appeal to you. Do not expect a neat ending all wrapped up in a bow like you would find in a fiction thriller. Reality is much messier and convoluted. Because of its subject matter, Death in the City of Light is for mature adult readers.
Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris was released on September 20, 2011, so you can get it now from your favorite bookseller.
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What you can win = 2 lucky readers will win an advance reader’s copy of Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris.
The Giveaway Rules:
1) The entry for this giveaway is very simple: Leave a comment about the book, subject, serial killers, the author or the review below the Rafflecopter form, and be sure to click “I did it” in the Rafflecopter form. Second, fill out your mailing address in the Rafflecopter form. Entries must include mailing addresses to be valid.
2) The deadline to enter this giveaway is Saturday, October 8, 2011, at midnight EST. Winners will be posted and emailed on Sunday, October 9, 2011.
3) You must be at least 18 years old to enter.
4) Only entries with U.S. mailing addresses will be valid because no shipping will be done outside of the U.S.
5) You must use the Rafflecopter form for your entry.
6) If you already follow PopcornReads on Twitter or Facebook, or are already an Email Club member, you must still complete those parts of the Rafflecopter form for those optional entries to count toward this giveaway.
7) Have fun with this one and you might just win a real-life thriller!