Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Bookseller: (Hugo Marston Mystery #1) by Mark Pryor

Ever request, borrow, or buy a book and then not remember who recommended it or how you decided to put it on your "to read" list?  It happens to me quite frequently and The Bookseller by Mark Pryor is one of those titles.  It was there waiting for me at the library a few weeks ago and I honestly don't know if I saw the book on Bookpage, another blog, or a Nook list.  Set in Paris, this mystery follows U.S. Embassy Security head Hugo Marston as he tries to ascertain why his bookseller friend has disappeared.  "Disappear" isn't quite the right word because Marston actually saw the old man being forced onto a boat.  When another man takes over Max's bookstall the next day, claiming to have no knowledge of Max and when the police dismiss Hugo's concerns, saying that others along the river say that Max left of his own accord; Hugo knows he is on his own to find answers.  His quest is further hampered when the U.S. Ambassador reminds Marston that they have no jurisdiction here and Marston should step away (although I am sure the Ambassador knew just as readers know that there is no stopping the former FBI agent turned security head).
Despite Hugo's mysterious love interest, a missing rare book, and another that Hugo purchases without knowing its true value, this contemporary mystery moved slowly for me.  Even finding out that Max had a connection to a group of Nazi hunters does little to add excitement. I thought the Paris setting, especially the historic bookseller district would be fresh and interesting, but mostly the book read like a typical television crime show.

Most mysteries and suspense novels I've been reading lately would be classified as cozy or Christian. Pryor's book is neither and was definitely written for the general crime book audience.  It is not as violent as a Patrica Cornwell or Michael Connelly novel but it would bear a PG 13 rating for language.  I have some reading friends who may really latch onto this series which now numbers four books, but it may be awhile before I see Hugo Marston in action again.  I do see that Pryor has written a nonfiction title about a 25 year old cold case he prosecuted, and while I don't normally read true crime, it might be interesting.

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