I love mysteries. I love books and books about books. For reasons unknown I've been infatuated with Paris from a young age. So when Mark Pryor's The Bookseller appeared on my radar, it was a foregone conclusion that I would read it. The story centers around a Paris bookseller named Max who is kidnapped in broad daylight from his bookstall along the Seine. His friend Hugo Marston, a former FBI agent and current head of security at the U.S. embassy in Paris witnesses the kidnapping and sets out to find out what happen to his friend and bring the perpetrators to justice.
The Bookseller is the first novel by the author and the first in the relatively new Hugo Martson series. For a first novel, it was good, not perfect, but good. There are a bugs that need to be worked out. For instance, the character Hugo is supposed to be from Texas and there are constant references to him being a "cowboy" although other than being from the Lone Star state there is little to support this characterization. This seemed like a superficial characterization but then maybe that was intentional. Maybe it was an attempt to portray how the French see Americans, especially American law enforcement. There is an awful lot of crime and coincidences stuff thrown in the book's 300 pages - Nazi hunters and Nazi collaborators, unexpectedly valuable books, and turf wars between rival international criminal organizations. There is a new girlfriend who turns out to have several personal and professional connections to Hugo, Max and the case. References to Sherlock Holmes are thrown in for good measure. Oh, and I almost forgot about Hugo's sidekick, a semi-retired CIA agent who decides it would be a good time to visit Paris. It came together in the end but there were times when it felt a
little like everything and the kitchen sink had been thrown in. But these complaints are minor. Overall I enjoyed the book. It is a first novel and I am willing to bet the series will improve with each new book.