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Reviews of Paris City of Night

The first reviews are coming on… on and blogs… Here’s a sampler.

SEX AND THE CIA–Michael Balter
Okay, this book’s hero, Jay Grant, whose father was a CIA man, has got two women in his life although only one of them really has his best interests at heart. It takes Jay quite a while to figure that out, however, as he is pursued from one end of Paris to another trying to figure out why both the CIA and a bunch of bad guys are after some daguerreotypes–could it be they contain the codes needed to blow up the city? Or to stop the city from being blown up? Only a longtime Paris resident writer like David Downie could weave City of Light street scenes so integrally into a fast-paced thriller like this and not lose the plot thread. And talk about your celebrity cameos! Adolph Eichmann, Jim Morrison–never mind that they are dead, they both play key roles. Downie brings both Paris and his characters alive with an economical but richly descriptive prose style reminiscent of Raymond Chandler and Eric Ambler. A must read!

I originally discovered Downie’s writing through his deliciously evocative food and travel books, so was most curious to read his fiction. It was equally thrilling, albeit in a completely different genre.
Paris is affectionately nicknamed “The City of Light.” But where there’s light, there’s inevitably shadow. Like many expat writers, Downie knows his adopted turf better than many locals — witness the spot-on description of Jim Morrison’s gravesite or a seedy barber shop near the Pantheon — and he illuminates those hidden recesses, painting a vivid chiaroscuro portrait of the shady Parisian underbelly. Paris, City of Night recalls the complex political intrigues of Le Carré, the shadowy ambiance of Ambler, the psychological insight of Simenon, the cat-and-mouse tension of Highsmith… yet showcases Downie’s unique voice and pitch-perfect perspective on his adopted city. And his prose is relentlessly entertaining (or entertainingly relentless). His recipe mixes secret Daguerreotype codes, embittered Cold Warriors, terrorists, and a somewhat reluctant, ambivalent “son of a spook” hero — with a soupcon of sex and even spicier political commentary.
After reading this twisting compulsive CIA actioner, you’ll never think of Paris in quite the same way.
For a sunnier view of his expat hometown, I recommend reading Downie’s ode in essay form (Paris Paris) or one of his marvelous cookbooks (which also include delectable details of local flavor as well as flavors).

After sitting up all night, unable to put down this amazingly crafted, sensational book, I can only recommend it wholeheartedly and hope that it receives even part of the extraordinary recognition it merits. The writing is sublime. I have read many thrillers and many thrillers that take place all over the world, but this is stupendous, addictive and stays with you after you’ve finished as you marvel at Downie, wondering: “How did he DO that?” Please give yourself a real treat, get your own copy and then just see if you can put it down before you’ve finished it. I dare you!

“Paris City of Night” is so gripping that I stayed up reading it all night and finished it over breakfast. So hyped up, so engrossed was I by how the story was going to turn out that I forgot that I was ALSO eating and dropped a nice splotch of egg yolk on my beige slacks. “Thriller” is right… What a yarn! And what knowledge of photography the author has! It’s extremely well-written (but that’s no surprise, given Downie’s other books) and I loved all the detail about the Paris neighborhoods and streets, of course. Bravo, bravo to the author for pulling this off. And bravo for writing it in such a made-for-movie way. If I were a rich producer, I’d grab it in a nanosecond. I hope to see it on the screen someday. Whatever the fate of this masterpiece (and I hope it will have a long and healthy life!), I’m giving it my hearty and early endorsement.

I cannot recommend this super-suspense thriller highly enough. It will keep you guessing and on thge edge of your seat the whole time and you will never be able to look at Paris quite the same way again.
Downie is a master at crafting a story with real, dimensional characters, places with texture, keen dialogue and beautiful language that stays with you. He is always a step ahead in his action and that is just the way you’ll like it.
I hope this will be just the first of many thrillers to come from this exceptional author. Encore, monsieur!

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