BookBrowse Reviews Murder on the Eiffel Tower by Claude Izner

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Murder on the Eiffel Tower

A Mystery

by Claude Izner

Murder on the Eiffel Tower by Claude Izner
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2008, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2009, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Beth Hemke Shapiro

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The first volume of an amateur detective series set in 19th century Paris

Murder on the Eiffel Tower soars with its historical treatment of Paris which readers will remember long after they finish the book. Claude Izner is the pseudonym of two sisters, Liliane Korb and Laurence Lefevre, who sell second-hand books on the Seine's banks and boast of expertise on 19th century Paris. Their experience and knowledge shine brightly in this first of a series featuring amateur detective Victor Legris.

Some readers might be reminded of author Anne Perry's English Victorian detective novels as they are drawn into Izner's portrayal of Paris and its 1889 World Exposition. Like Perry, Izner interjects small, captivating tidbits about the period:

Fried-fish vendors and left-over food sellers were setting up their stalls in the wind. Dishes of beetroot sat alongside rounds of cold black pudding….The drinking dens, the low doorways in decrepit facades, the stands selling second-hand clothes and scrap iron, all set the scene perfectly for a Parisian Jack the Ripper.

In addition, the book includes extremely detailed descriptions of the exposition, such as accounts of its national pavilions, indigenous villages, and other architectural treasures. Many different cultures are represented from around the world, bringing with them their clothing, dance, and food so that, as Legris pursues suspects through the expo, readers can sense what it would have been like to be present at this global event.


In upcoming books, it is hoped that the authors will focus on broadening minor characters. While Kirkus Reviews notes a "colorful supporting cast," this reader agrees with Booklist that "the many secondary characters are rather underdeveloped and, hence, difficult to keep straight." Like stage props, the lesser characters often appear stilted and stereotyped. Eudoxie, secretary at the newspaper Passepartout, is portrayed merely as a fast typist who flirts with Legris. "'You look pale…Are you all right?' Eudoxie asked, taking advantage of [Legris'] weakened state to come up close and begin to undo the buttons of his coat." Meanwhile, bookstore assistant Joseph flits about finding books to please wealthy socialite patrons, while acting as a gatekeeper to Legris and his associate Mori (readers might even wonder when co-owners Legris and Mori actually work in the shop). Neither Eudoxie, Joseph, nor other subordinate characters, show much emotional depth.

Having said that, being able to revel in an armchair tour of 19th century Paris trumps any character limitations. Readers will look forward to upcoming books in the series, in anticipation of catching glimpses of other Parisian landmarks.

Series Order:

Originally planned as a series of eight books, a comment by one of the authors on a fan-site indicates that there will be at least nine books in the Victor Legris series (the US publisher also confirms the existence of a ninth book). Eight are currently available in French (listed on the authors' website); but only four are currently available in English, of which two are available in the USA.

The bibliography below shows the UK and USA publication dates:

  • Murder On the Eiffel Tower (UK: 2007. US: 2008)
  • The Pere-Lachaise Mystery (UK: 2007),
    published in the US as The Disappearance at Pere-Lachaise (Sept 2009)
  • The Montmartre Investigation (UK: 2008)
  • The Marais Assassin (UK: 2009)

Reviewed by Beth Hemke Shapiro

This review was originally published in October 2008, and has been updated for the September 2009 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



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