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The Crimes of Paris ? A true Story of Murder, Theft, and Detection
Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler
Little, Brown and Company 2009

A book endorsed by Michael Connelly promises to be good. The dust jacket leads us to believe The Crimes of Paris is a true crime story about the mysterious disappearance of daVinci’s revered and enigmatic Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911 and the national uproar that ensued. This is what The Crimes of Paris is about but it is also about much more than that.

Well-written, engrossing, and entertaining, the latest by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler has wide audience appeal.

The authors capture the energy and soul of the extraordinary City of Light circa the late 1800’s to WW I. This mystery reatures tales from the bohemian to the elegant, of homicide and thievery, and the seduction of outrageous nocturnal cabarets during the advent of motor cars, manned flight, fierce and bloody political turmoil. This combined with a very public fascination with crime and punishment and the intimate interplay and blurred boundaries between bona fide crimes and popular fiction. All this with an amazing feel and flavour of an artistic, literary, and scientific revolution with enticing information of the theft and eventual recovery of the famed painting woven throughout.

Even Pablo Picasso was considered a suspect in this crime.

The Crimes of Paris not only chronicles often dramatic case histories, but provides a compelling evolution of forensic science from primitive investigation where one seriously doubts the accuracy of any conviction, to brilliant new developments in suspect and crime identification, fingerprinting, and photography which greatly enhanced the analytical process.

The influence of scientific discovery on the parallel development of the mystery novel likewise figures prominently in The Crimes of Paris as a fascinating study in and of itself.

The inclusion of photographs and quotes from multiple sources including the famous and infamous adds to the appeal as do forays into the art world where we learn of the birth of Cubism which is indirectly tied to the theft of the Mona Lisa.

An introduction explaining the nature of the book would have been useful. All in all, The Crimes of Paris is a good, solid read. Those attracted to the lure and romance of a well-presented combination of art, history, and mysterious circumstances will greatly enjoy this book.