MLA Gold Award Site

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
  • First Published:
    Sep 2011, 432 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2012, 432 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Jutting out were the charred remains of a human hand. On the far staircase was a pile of debris, which turned out to be a skull, a rib cage, and several other recognizable bones. Arms and legs had been strewn about in parts. A split torso and two other skulls lay on the floor. The stench of scorched and decomposing flesh was overpowering. Horrified, the fire chief ordered his men out of the basement. As the firefighters exited the grisly site, one of the younger men leaned over an iron banister and vomited.

"Gentlemen, come and take a look," Boudringhin told the patrolmen once he emerged onto the street through the old carriage entrance. "I believe that your work will be cut out for you."

Teyssier was not the least prepared for the carnage that awaited him in the basement. He rushed back to Garanne and telephoned headquarters.

A large crowd soon gathered outside the town house, many of them curious about the smoke, the commotion, and now also the sight of a fire truck that was not yet extinguishing the fire. Among the arrivals was a slim, dark-haired man of medium height, pushing a bicycle through the throng of onlookers. He was pale and clean-shaven, and wore a dark gray overcoat and a fedora. He was sweating profusely.

When he reached the front of the crowd, he leaned his bike against the building, walked up to the fire chief, and identified himself as the brother of the owner. He demanded to be taken inside, speaking with such conviction that the fire chief waved him through to Patrolman Fillion. While the two men were talking, Patrolman Teyssier returned to the scene.

"Are you good Frenchmen?" the man asked.

"What kind of question is that?"

"Then listen carefully. What you see there are the bodies of Germans and traitors to our country." Discreetly, he asked if the authorities had been notified. Teyssier nodded.

"That's a serious mistake," the man said. "My life is at stake, as are the lives of several of my friends who serve our cause." He explained that he was in charge of a French Resistance organization and handed over a document to that effect, though the details were difficult to read in the darkness. In the meantime, he reached down and picked something off the ground, shoving it into his pocket.

The man then professed to have some three hundred secret files and identification cards of fellow Resistants at his house. "I must destroy them at once before they fall into the hands of the Germans." Sympathetic to the work of the Resistance, Teyssier and Fillion had no desire to see so many patriotic Frenchmen handed over to the Nazis and carted off to prisons, concentration camps, or some other horrific fate. They agreed to allow the man to leave the scene of the crime, even though he clearly had information that could have helped the investigation.

What's more, the officers agreed not to inform their superiors about his visit. The stranger biked away into the night.

Later, when Teyssier saw a photograph of the physician who owned the building, he was mortified to learn that the man on the bicycle had been Marcel Petiot.


ACROSS town, at 48-50 Boulevard Diderot, Commissaire Georges-Victor Massu, the chief of the Brigade Criminelle, had just finished dinner with his wife, Mathilde, and twenty-year-old son, Bernard. Massu had settled into his favorite chair to talk about the day's activities: a burglary, an assault case, and the usual routine of reports, interrogations, and seemingly endless paperwork. Bernard, a law student at the University of Paris, had retreated to his room to prepare for exams. Minutes before ten p.m., after Massu had just climbed into bed, the telephone rang. "I still remember that call as if the crackle of the bell rang in my ears today," he said many years later. At that hour, he knew it could only mean one thing. This was not, as he put it, another "stabbing in the vicinity of Montmartre." Massu took the receiver with the steely composure of a gambler trying to bluff a rogue cardsharp.

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
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Everyone Brave is Forgiven
    Everyone Brave is Forgiven
    by Chris Cleave
    I've always been interested in the history of the Blitz, the period of intense aerial raids of ...
  • Book Jacket: Saving Montgomery Sole
    Saving Montgomery Sole
    by Mariko Tamaki
    Understanding identity is one the most important parts of adolescence. For some teenagers, those who...
  • Book Jacket: All Tomorrow's Parties
    All Tomorrow's Parties
    by Rob Spillman
    In this absorbing memoir, co-founder of Tin House magazine, Rob Spillman, recalls his artistic ...
Win this book!
Win The 100 Year Miracle

50 Copies to Give Away!

The 100 Year Miracle is a rich, enthralling novel, full of great characters.

Enter

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Fair Fight
by Anna Freeman

A page-turning novel set in the world of 18th century female pugilists.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper
    by Phaedra Patrick

    In a poignant and sparkling debut, a lovable widower embarks on a life-changing adventure.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Alaskan Laundry
    by Brendan Jones

    A fresh debut novel about a young woman who moves to Alaska and finds herself through the hard work of fishing.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I I A Sign O T T

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.