Saturday, May 26, 2012


BOOKLIST -- Starred Review-- May 1, 2012

 The Paris Directive
  Jay, Gerald (author).

June 2012. 336p. Doubleday/Nan A. Talese, hardcover, $25.
  First published May 1, 2012 (Booklist).

Paris police Inspecteur Paul Mazarelle transferred to the sleepy Dordogne when his wife decided to return to the village of her birth to spend her final days. A year after her death, he’s lonely and unfulfilled by rural life and policing. But the brutal murders of two American couples put a spring in his step. What he doesn’t know is that the murders were a professional hit commissioned at the highest levels of French government. The pseudonymous Jay has woven threads of police procedural, espionage, rural noir, “acts of barbarism,” and Gallic charm into a story that will be a great fit for almost any crime fan. Mazarelle is a memorable flic—hulking, disheveled, intuitive, and world-weary. The hitman is an East German who has ardently embraced capitalism and conspicuous consumption (the book is set in 1999). The American daughter of two of the victims arrives to ask some pointed questions, and she is strikingly attractive, smart, and very direct; and the natives of the Dordogne are engagingly and quirkily French. This is the start of a series, and the only disappointing note is that, upon dispatching the killer, Mazarelle returns to Paris. It’s likely that many readers would love to spend more time in Jay’s Dordogne.Thomas Gaughan

AMAZON Reviews
A Fine Detective Literary Thriller
May 1, 2012
 Descriptively packaged, wrapped-up in Graham Green intrigue, & tied-off in a Richard Condon bow/A special present for the reader to open and enjoy.
The Paris Directive opens with/the elegant Frau Dr. Sachs, her shoulder-length hair dyed the color of a concert grand, stepping off an elevator, with ...a palm to the small of her back, sending her screaming down the shaft, her shrieks tailing after her like a torn parachute.
Soon after the reader is in the halls of power just as a political plot begins to unfold. Klaus Reiner, who recently gave the finishing touch to Dr. Sachs, is employed for some more finishing touches in the higher realms of capital & influence. An ill wind has now been set, blowing toward the small French village of Taziac, where the aging Inspector Paul Mazarelle is about to have his world changed once again.
He was a Paris detective/Born and bred from its sounds, its smells, he had a career there, a job that meant something. It was the one place in the world in which he felt most alive, most in tune with his flesh, and every day was a throw of the dice. But his young wife, terminally ill with cancer, wants to go to the village where she'd grown up to die. He leaves Paris and is transferred.
With her death Mazarelle is at a cross roads.
But before he can even make a decision, he finds himself in a situation where he must bring his game quickly back to speed; as the village league, or even the Paris league experience he has, may not be enough - for the globalized international fields of play.

The novel has a light touch of the urban Sicilian police Inspector Salvo Montalbano; in that the setting is urban, the police force small, the politics local. All of this, and more, adding to its localized 'character'.

Klaus begins laying out the groundwork in the village to assassinate an elitist calibre vacationer. But things don't exactly go according to plan, and the pace starts picking up even more, the suspense then continues to build, and with the continued added twists - the reader can't turn the pages fast enough.
                                                                            -- R.A.Barricklow

Engrossing and Compelling Detective Story Set in the French Countryside
May 19, 2012

"The Paris Directive" is an engrossing and compelling detective story set in the French countryside where a Parisian detective has resettled to deal with his grief at the death of his wife. The reader knows from the outset that at the Adlon Hotel in Berlin, an assassin has been hired to kill someone. The blond assassin dyes his hair dark brown and travels to this quaint village. He is diabolically cunning and sets about framing a worker of Arab descent who happens to be a rather nasty man too (a wife beater). Instead of killing just the one intended victim, this sociopath assassin brutally slays two wealthy middle-aged vacationing couples. Three bodies slaughtered with knives are found in their rented house. The missing husband of one of the women is immediately suspected. It isn't until Detective Mazarelle steps in that the true picture of what happened unfolds. One of the victims' daughter, a Manhattan attorney, travels to France to claim the bodies of her parents and this character lends additional excitement and intrigue. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel and the various references author Gerald Jay incorporated into the story to lend the aura of authenticity to the plot.  
                                                                                              --G.K. Libbey

Intelligent and Fast-Paced
June 5, 2012

The hero of this cat and mouse mystery, Inspector Paul Mazarelle, is a totally original creation, being middle-aged, overweight and with "AVO" tattooed on his right bicep. AVO stands for amor vincit omnia. He has a somewhat depressed mustache, giving him a sense of gravitas. Mazarelle is even a bit on the lazy side until his interest is peaked. He smokes a pipe, sips on Cognac in the middle of the day, loves sausages and is more of a beagle than a greyhound. Not your usual sleuth, but a very appealing one.

Mazarelle has the usual somewhat dumb policeman side-kick, one Bernard Duboit. The inspector teases him, noting the young man's receding hair "you'll be as bald as a hubcap before you're thirty." But Mazarelle is pleasant, even earthy and moves into the murder investigation like a bulldozer and you would not like to be in his way.

Mazarelle's enemy is the ruthless killer Klaus Reiner who will bump off anybody for a price, a high price. In the first chapter you see him in action: a judge who killed a girl with his car and then left the scene, finds there had been a witness to the accident. The judge pays Reiner to get rid of her. Reiner niftily disposes of her down an elevator shaft when she thinks she is stepping out on to her regular floor. A very resourceful killer we have here. He even is an expert on mushrooms, combing the woods to find the deadly death cap, the ingestion of which is a really awful way to die.

The two antagonists Reiner and Mazarelle, the former like a steel knife, honed, ready to strike, the latter like a comfortable but sturdy old shoe, lead the reader on a merry chase. However, this is not a murder mystery because we know who the villain is. The mechanics of the chase, the strategy involved in catching a very slippery bad-guy are the structure of this novel.

Author Jay is well-informed across many disciplines and when two couples, one American one Canadian are brutally murdered in their rented home in Tazaic (a fictitious French town) Inspector Marazelle digs in his heels. The ramifications of the murders are global, the crime is political as one of the murdered men, Schuyler Phillips, was CEO of Tornade, a huge company making jet planes and fast locomotives. We learn that two former French Intelligence agents had hired professional assassin Reiner to kill Phillips. However, the unsuspecting wife of Phillips and the American couple barge in just as Phillips is being iced so they must die, too.

Into the plot steps attractive Molly Reece, the district attorney daughter of one of the murdered couples. She is not anywhere near as good a character as Mazarelle but she adds to the liveliness of the plot and she is in Taziac asking questions about the murder of her parents. The novel proceeds at a fast pace and has a satisfying ending. Even Michou, Mazzarelle's "smug grossly overweight" cat although perhaps losing a couple of her nine lives manages to survive.

Although not a who dunnit "The Paris Directive" is well written and interesting with lots of twists and turns in a complicated stew of international intrigue. Inspector Mazarelle is the lynch-pin that holds the novel together and he is an attractive protagonist that you can't help liking and sympathizing with.                                                                                         --P.B. Sharp

If you like Poirot, Marshal Guarnaccia or Aurelio Zen, this is for you!!
June 21, 2012

From our introduction in Berlin to [Klaus] Reiner, killer for hire, to diplomatic disaster at the Elysee Palace to a small fictional village in Dordogne, this murder mystery driven by international intrigue never ceases to entertain. Written as the first in a series featuring Inspector Paul Mazarelle, formerly of Paris but now living in Taziac, Mazarelle must bring all his skills to bear when a grisly quadruple homicide occurs in the sleepy tourist region.

Both the killer and the inspector find things difficult when Molly, a New York City district attorney and daughter of two of the victims, arrives to identify the bodies and stays to investigate the crime. Reiner's foil for the crimes is a local Arab handyman and as doubts to the handyman's guilt occur, Reiner must return to make sure the handyman's guilt is maintained. This isn't a simple murder for hire; it is more like a chess game.

I really enjoyed this book: it was well written, had a rich and satisfying cast of characters and a great plot. I look forward to seeing more of Inspector Mazarelle.              --trp 

MYSTERY TRIBUNE   5.0 review
May 17, 2012

We recently received "The Paris Directive", a debut novel by Gerald Jay, from the publisher Nan A. Talese (Random House) and were really impressed by the quality and the elegant use of language which this author demonstrated in his book. What comes next is our take on this exciting novel and first in Inspector Mazarelle series which is scheduled to be released on June 19, 2012.
 A Brief Summary: 

In a Berlin hotel room in the late 1990s, two former French intelligence agents hire Klaus Reiner, a ruthlessly effective killer, to eliminate an American industrialist vacationing in southwestern France. Reiner easily locates his target in the small Dordogne village of Taziac, but the hit is compromised when three innocent people are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Enter Inspector Paul Mazarelle. Formerly of Paris but now living in Taziac, the inspector is charged with bringing his experience and record of success in the capital to bear on the gruesome quadruple homicide at the height of tourist season.
Both Mazarelle’s investigation and Reiner’s job become complicated when Molly, a New York City district attorney and daughter of two of the victims, arrives to identify the bodies and begins asking questions. All evidence points to Ali Sedak, a local Arab handyman, but Mazarelle and Molly have doubts, forcing Reiner to return to Taziac to ensure they see things as he arranged them. Little does anyone in the picturesque French countryside know how politically charged this crime is: its global ramifications, stemming from the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, could overshadow everything.

Our Take: 

This is a very refreshing story with a style which we have not usually seen from American authors: The book has a European flavor with most of the story happening in relatively small towns in France. The lead character reminded us a little of Georges Simenon's Commissaire Maigret. Character development is very strong and quite a bit of detail is provided on the life of Inspector Mazarelle and his personal challenges, his past life in Paris and his dead wife.
But beyond all these, there is something in the way the author writes his dialogues and shapes the characters that made us love the book.

 Our Rating: 5.0

Gerald Jay is truly a master in elegant use of language and a bright star in the world of crime fiction.
           This is one of those books that we really loved.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Exit: Guy, the Fire Chief

                                                     Ionesco's The Bald Soprano- BRAT productions
                                                              Photo: chrisKPhotography  

      Inspector Paul Mazarelle knows dysfunctional families intimately—his own and his wife Martine’s. The first time the young Paul saw his father Guy on the stage, he thought he was a god. Guy was the tall, handsome Fire Chief in Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano, a role he played at the small Théâtre de la Huchette in Paris for his entire career. Though he fancied himself a peacock, he was only a bit player. Paul did not see his father very often. And one day Guy walked out on the boy and his mother, and never came back.
     When the American tourists, Judy and Ben Reece, come to Mazarelle’s commissariat in the Dordogne to report a theft, the Inspector notes the rise in rural crime. “Families nowdays fall apart like wet tissue paper,” he says, no doubt remembering his absentee father. Judy likes Mazarelle’s sad sympathetic brown eyes, his droopy mustache. She knows that his pretty young wife, Martine, recently died of cancer. The Inspector, she fears, may need more help than they do. Had she known that Liberation once called him "the Swiss Army knife of detectives," she'd have thought otherwise.