Book Review: The Sorbonne Affair by Mark Pryor

Book Review: The Sorbonne Affair by Mark Pryor

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The Sorbonne Affair by Mark Pryor

If you love Paris, love reading mysteries, and are not yet acquainted with Hugo Marston—ex-FBI profiler; current head of security at the American Embassy in Paris; lover of books, good wine, good food, and smart women; and solver of mysteries—well, what can I say?

You’re in for a treat.

In The Sorbonne Affair, the seventh book in Mark Pryor’s Hugo Marston series, Hugo becomes involved in an investigation that involves a highly successful American author of romance novels who is giving a writing workshop in Paris. The story begins when she approaches Hugo, telling him she suspects someone is spying on her; but it quickly becomes both more serious and more complicated when the hotel employee who appears to have planted a camera in her room is found dead.

From there it takes off, into an increasingly complicated plot until Hugo manages to figure out “who done it,” and confirms his suspicions in a scene anyone who ever loved the board game Clue—or the movie—will no doubt appreciate.

Hugo is a tenderhearted hero with a self-deprecating sense of humor that is frequently employed in witty repartée, most frequently with his best friend and foil, Tom Green, or his girlfriend, Claudia. At one point in the story a friend brings flowers to his apartment, where Hugo is recovering from a minor injury. “Got a vase here somewhere?” she asks, and his response is, “You recall who lives here, right?” “Oh, good point,” the friend replies and pulls a water jug from the cupboard, saying, “This’ll do.”

Author Mark Pryor

I haven’t yet had the chance to read all the books in the series, but in all the ones I’ve read there is additional pleasure for literary types, whether it’s because the story is unfolding in the world of the bouquinistes along the Seine; or in the American Library in Paris; or because, as in this one, several of the central characters are writers, which gives Pryor the chance to insert some very writerly conversations into the story.

And then there is the fact that Sherlock Holmes is one of Hugo’s heroes.

Pryor is an elegant and intelligent writer, and he has a way of being able to wax poetic about even the most mundane aspects of life in Paris. For example:

The next morning Hugo walked the mile from his apartment to the Sorbonne Hotel, stepping out of his building onto a sidewalk that was wet from a light rain that had stopped an hour before, leaving the air smelling fresh and clean…

Is this not Paris?  And is that not a lovely sentence?

Of course there’s not too much I can say about the actual unfolding of the story without spoiling it. But I can tell you that, characteristically, in addition to mounting intrigue, and aside from the occasional (and inevitable) moments of chagrin or worried suspense—this is a murder mystery, after all—being with Hugo in Paris is a delight.

Also, there is a subplot in this story that remains unresolved.

Which means, Mr. Pryor, that we’re all waiting eagerly for the next one.

Read Janet’s interview with Mark Pryor, the author of The Sorbonne Affair. 

The Sorbonne Affair: A Hugo Marston Novel is available here on Amazon.com

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Janet Hulstrand is a freelance writer, editor and teacher who divides her time between France and the U.S. She is the author of "Demystifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You," and she writes frequently on France for a variety of publications, including her blog, Writing from the Heart, Reading for the Road. She teaches “Paris: A Literary Adventure” for the education abroad program of Queens College of the City University of New York; classes at Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington D.C.; and Writing from the Heart workshop/retreats in Essoyes, a beautiful little village in the Champagne region (l’Aube).

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  1. I just finished reading this book yesterday (after reading every book in the series over the course of the last couple weeks. I’m already in withdrawal. I miss the characters, I miss Paris, I miss the “world” he’s created.
    Hopefully the next one comes out soon but what I really need is like 10 more of them.
    I took my first trip to Paris last year and one of the things I love about the books is that he spends his time in the area we stayed in and the places we went to which makes me miss Paris even more. I fell in love with Paris and hope I can go again.

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