The Pere-Lachaise Mystery

Wednesday night, a week and a half ago, I thought I was living a nightmare again. It started already in the evening while watching “Silent Witness”. A gall stone attack of the worse degree. Only problem was that I have no gallbladder anymore, so this ought not happen! After an hour of hellish agony it finally subsided and I was glad we had not rushed off to the hospital. But then it started again… And again… And again… All night through. In the morning I phoned the health clinic and got an appointment. I brought up how I have been so very tired for so long and that I have started taking iron pills to cure myself from the fatigue. The doctor, without my knowledge, ran tests for both things, both for the gallstone problem and the fatigue.

She phoned last Wednesday and told me that my liver results are off the scales. So I need to go for an ultra sound so they can search for gall stones that now can be anywhere in my system! As if that was not bad enough and scary, she also told me that something is wrong with my metabolism, my thyroid is under-producing and today I was told to come in for more blood tests to see why. And to see how my liver is coping. I woke with a head ache and stalled but at 11:00 I walked in to have that horrible needle put in to my arm. Four vials later, I head for home, with a short stop, at the local toy shop to look at Birthday presents for “Boo” since his big day is on Saturday and he doesn’t talk of anything but that fact. I sat down to have lunch when I got home when the phone rang and the lab told me that they forgot one vial. Could I come back? I who hate needles, felt very upset, but what could I do but head there a second time? So today I have been used as a pin cushion!

It’s been raining all day so I haven’t felt up to a whole lot but I managed to finally write a review for the book I finished last week: I loved the first book in this series so I continued right away with this, number two in the series, and to all that think one can read murder mysteries out of order, that is not the case with this series at all. This is so much more than a murder mystery. It’s a historical novel, showing Parisian society in 1890 and each novel seems to have it’s theme. At the end of the books, you get the historical facts and social history, around which the story has been built up.<br/>In the first book we get acquainted with book shop owner, Victor Legris, 30 years old in this book, who just ends up an amateur sleuth in all the books. He doesn’t intend to get involved but does so anyway. In book one he lived with routines. Working in the bookshop with Joseph Pignot, the helper, whose mother sells vegetables and fruit from a cart, and with his foster-father, Japanese Kenji Mori. Kenji has know Victor since Victor was a little boy and only a naive reader does not start suspecting that he had some sort of affair with Victor’s mother. When Victor inherited the Paris bookshop, they moved there, from London, and they live parallell lives. Victor knows little of Kenji’s doings and inner life. Kenji makes sure that Victor does not get married to the wrong sort of girl. The result is that Victor has affairs with married women. But in book one, he falls for the single, independent Tasha, from Russia, who is trying to make it as a painter. He is bored with his mistress Odette de Valois, and soon becomes the lover of Tasha. <br/>When this book starts in November 1899, a mysterious man dies in Colombia. That is where Odette’s husband was in book one, and it seems like he is the one that has died. In a letter found on him, we get to read that Odette tells him how the terrible Victor took up with an immigrant slut, five months earlier, who poses naked for artists. <br/>In the next chapter, four months have passed and Odette has not taken to widowhood in the normal manner. She goes to mediums and has gone overboard in mourning clothes and how she has decorated her house. She brings her maid Denise to the mausoleum at Pére-Lachaise, the cemetery. Denise gets lost while walking around waiting for her mistress. WE know that Odette’s head has been bashed in and that she has been put in a wheelbarrow. At home, Denise get frightened when someone tries to get in to her room during the night. She runs to Victor’s bookshop in the morning and asks him to find her mistress. He goes to the flat and realizes that something is not right. So he comes up with a delightful plan. He has long tried to get Tasha to marry him or move in with him, to no avail. Now he asks Tasha to move in with him so Denise can stay in Tasha’s rented room. The plot thickens when Tasha’s room is broken in to, Denise goes to an interview and is found drowned in the river. And at the same time, the garbage “collector” living in an old court building, makes an awful discovery, a dead woman in his wheel barrow! It does not do anything for his sanity that was already questioned.<br/>Things do not happen quickly in these books. The solution comes at the end and it is always surprising. But I love to follow the story. Not just how Victor and Joseph discover little by little who might be the murderer. But the interesting people that frequent the book shop, the books read in those days, and the inter-action between Victor and Tasha that is a story in itself. Victor getting jealous of her artist friends and the fact that she keeps so much of herself and her life away from him. And Kenji’s comings and goings, and the fact that he has smuggled someone named Iris to Paris that Victor must never meet…


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