Excerpt from Death in the City of Light by David King, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Death in the City of Light

The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris

By David King

Death in the City of Light
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Sep 2011,
    432 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2012,
    432 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


For most Frenchmen, however, the last four years represented fear, cold, hunger, and humiliation. No group of people, of course, fared worse than the Jews. Almost immediately after the conquest, the 200,000 Jews of France began losing their basic civic rights. As of October 3, 1940, they could no longer serve in positions of authority in government, education, publishing, journalism, film, and the military. The following day, civil authorities were granted the power to intern foreign-born Jews in "special camps." Three days later, the repeal of the Crémieux Act stripped citizenship from another 1,500 Algerian Jews. The flurry of discriminatory laws was relentless. By early 1941, Jews could no longer work in banking, insurance, real estate, or hotels. Quotas restricted the number of Jews allowed to practice the legal and medical professions to 2 percent, though this, too, was later expanded into an outright ban. Jewish shops were soon to be "Aryanized," that is, seized by the state and the ownership handed over or sold at a bargain rate to non-Jews. The aim was to "eliminate all Jewish influence in the national economy."

It was not long before the rafles, or roundups, began. On May 14, 1941, the first rafle resulted in the arrest and internment of 3,747 innocent Jewish men. Ten months later, on March 27, 1942, "special train 767" left France with the first convoy of 1,112 Jews packed into overcrowded third-class passenger cars, bound for the new extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Eighty-four deportations would follow, most of them in sealed cattle cars. SS Lieutenant General Reinhard Heydrich and his deputy Adolf Eichmann would continually press French authorities to quicken the pace. In all, 75,721 Jewish men, women, and children would be deported from France to Nazi death and concentration camps in the east. Only 2,800 of them would return home. Paris under the Nazi Occupation was, in the words of historian Alistair Horne, the four darkest years of the city's two-thousand-year history. For many Parisians indeed, it was a nightmare of tyranny and terror, resulting in a desperation to escape that would be ruthlessly exploited by one man in its midst.


WHAT Massu did after his initial search of the town house might seem peculiar at best. He did not go straight to rue Caumartin to look for Dr. Petiot, nor did he send any detectives there. Instead, he went home.

A French law, dating back to December 13, 1799 (22 Frimaire of the French Revolutionary Calendar), prohibited the police from barging in on citizens during the middle of the night unless there was a fire, flood, or an invitation from inside the residence. Article 76 of the Constitution of Year Eight, as it was known, had been written to stop the late-night arrests that occurred during the Reign of Terror. But in a case of this magnitude, Massu could have simply posted men outside Petiot's apartment to wait for the legal hour. Clearly, there was another explanation for his inaction.

The commissaire suspected that 21 rue Le Sueur had been used by the Gestapo, the German secret state police, that had seized control of French internal affairs. Established in April 1933 to eliminate "enemies of the state" as part of Adolf Hitler's consolidation of power, the Gestapo had swelled from some three hundred officials in a former art school on Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse in Berlin to a total of forty thousand agents and many more informers across Occupied Europe. In the name of law and order, they could spy, arrest, imprison, torture, and kill with almost complete impunity. The organization was above the law, and there was no appeal.

Massu had reasons for presuming a possible Gestapo connection. There was not only the butchery and brutality of the crime scene, but also the fact that the German security forces had preferred to set up its offices in the chic 16th arrondissement. Around the corner on the Avenue Foch, for instance, were Gestapo buildings at Nos. 31, 72, 84, and 85, along with offices of the related SS secret service the Sicherheitsdienst, or SD, at Nos. 19-21, 31 bis, 53, 58-60, 80, and 85. Many other German military, counterespionage, and Nazi Party offices were located on this street as well.

Excerpted from Death in the City of Light by David King. Copyright © 2011 by David King. Excerpted by permission of Crown. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Hundred-Year House
    The Hundred-Year House
    by Rebecca Makkai
    Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"


    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...
  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Arsonist
by Sue Miller

Published Jun. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  132Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.