David King's engrossing and atmospheric examination of French mass murderer and physician Marcel Petiot's life is true-crime noir at its best. Always a cruel and crooked opportunist, Petiot develops into a rapacious executioner in the dark, desperate, and violent world of Nazi-occupied France.
King deftly establishes this world with many fascinating digressions, including a brief look at the development of existentialism, and he implies that the Paris in which Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit was written was the perfect killing ground for the bold, amoral, brilliant, selfish (and possibly insane) Marcel Petiot.
He immerses the reader in horror on page one: "The smoke had begun five days before, but now, in the unusually warm weather, it was getting worse. In the air was a nauseating smell described variously as burnt caramel, burnt rubber, or a burnt roast of poor quality." Police ...
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