Saturday, July 7, 2012


Nice, Dark, Twisty
 July 5, 2012
….The Paris Directive is one of those solid, workmanlike mysteries that are always so satisfying to read. What sets this novel apart from most mysteries is that it's told from multiple points of view, one of them being the killer's. In fact, the story begins as our villain commits the first of the murders that will occur in the book. The first murder goes well. It's everything thereafter that goes wrong. The first murder shows us what a cool, determined, and efficient killer our villain is, so when he accepts the next assignment, we expect him to proceed with his usual efficiency. But now, and this is one of the most intriguing aspects of the book, things start to go very wrong and keep getting worse. To protect both himself and his employers, our villain must return to the scene of the crime, the Dordogne region of France, to fix the latest problem. But every time he sets up a situation to solve the problem, not only is the problem not solved, but his solution draws our hero, Inspector Mazarelle, closer to identifying the villain. The plot is nicely twisty, with each revelation exposing yet one more layer of the mystery, and one more level of authority (from local police to the Foreign Ministry). As a result, the story turns out to be very mysterious, indeed.

This is a wonderfully satisfying book to read. In fact, I actually read it twice, and enjoyed it thoroughly both times. The style is clean and spare, the story a series of ever more complicated plots within plots. What keeps us glued to the pages is the cat-and-mouse game between the Inspector and the killer; we already know who the killer is, the suspense comes from wondering who's really behind it all and how much more damage the killer will do before he's finally stopped. Along the way, the author weaves together the separate strands of the story to create a tapestry of intrigue and deception. If you took a bit of Simenon, added in a bit of Forsyth's "Day of the Jackal" and a bit of Nicholas Freeling, you'd probably end up with something like "The Paris Directive."

Gerald Jay has created a nicely paced story filled with well-drawn characters and set in an unusual locale. While so many mysteries take place in cities, The Paris Directive takes us to a fairly secluded locale, a small town in the Dordogne, where most of the residents know each other, making it that much more difficult for the killer to remain unnoticed. Eventually, the mystery moves back to Paris but in unexpected ways. Including what I'll call a "post-mortem murder." Read the book to find out what that means…

                                                                                                       --Robin Wolfson “Reliza”

Odd Start but it Keeps Getting Better... and Better... and Better...
 June 21, 2012
There is something worthwhile in hanging in there on a book that you're not quite finding at the start…At the end, I'm glad I stayed with it because this is a damn good story well told.

Inspector Mazarelle, the main character, is a sort of Columbo type detective - older, rumply appearance, looks like he's got some tough mileage on him. His nemesis in this tale is sort of a chameleon-type person who can be anyone he needs to be and can easily switch between the various characters at his disposal. Change the hair, the wardrobe, the accent, the official documents... and he's no longer who he appeared to be.

The storyline has real grit and a fair amount of gloss in the people, the professions, the actions they undertake and the locations where the action takes place. This tough/tender dichotomy makes for consistently interesting reading as the storyline develops. …So settle in, and thoroughly enjoy yourself. If you're a fan of mysteries and thrillers, you should like this one a lot.
                                                                                                           --J.M. Jacobs

A game of cat and mouse in the Dordogne
 June 14, 2012
Like most long-time mystery readers, I feel an eager anticipation when I start the first book in a new series, wondering if it will be an introduction to a protagonist who will become like an old friend, revisited each year. In the case of The Paris Directive, just the listing of the first few chapters provided a frisson of excitement:

1. Berlin
2. Élysée Palace, Paris
3. Hotel Adlon, Berlin
4. L'Ermitage, Taziac
5. Frankfurt
6. Dordogne River, Bergerac
7. Café Valon, Taziac

Ah, looks like international intrigue. Sure enough, we begin by meeting Klaus Reiner, hired killer, whose cold efficiency, bland good looks and fluency in German, French and English have put him at the peak of his deadly profession, with the ability to choose the most lucrative contracts.

Reiner's newest assignment takes him to the fictional village of Taziac, in France's Dordogne. The beautiful village in summer, with its cafés and restaurants, makes no impression on the all-business Reiner. He just wants to get the job done and move on, with the satisfaction of seeing an impressively large new deposit to his numbered account in Switzerland. But the hit goes wrong and Reiner has to take out four middle-aged tourists, instead of just the one assigned to him.

This is where our protagonist enters the scene. Paul Mazarelle, a former Paris police detective now living in Taziac, jumps on the case like a dog on a bone. Mazarelle had moved to Taziac, his young wife's home village, when she became ill, and he is now a widower who doesn't know whether to make Taziac his permanent home or return to Paris. Mazarelle is a comfortably large, middle-aged man with a luxuriant mustache, who enjoys his pipe, good wine and food, and women. But, most of all, Mazarelle likes to sink his teeth into a meaty murder case.

Mazarelle's investigation quickly identifies a likely suspect, but he has some doubts and digs deeper, mostly hampered, more than helped, by his men, especially Duboit, whose job qualifications include stupidity, laziness, insolence, racism and habitual abuse of suspects and witnesses...When a... daughter arrives from the U.S. to kibitz the investigation and further inflame the interest of the already-annoying journalists who have descended on the town, Mazarelle's job becomes even more complicated.

An intriguing cat-and-mouse game begins between Mazarelle and Reiner, which leads to a tense and dramatic climax. Readers who enjoy inverted mysteries (those in which the culprit is known; not a whodunnit) should enjoy this story… Gerald Jay is a pseudonym. Whoever he is…his writing is assured and powerful, leading me to believe he must have some kind of writing experience. Jay is said to be at work on a new Mazarelle book. I'm hopeful that as we get to know Mazarelle better, he will become an old friend.

                                                                                                              --Maine Colonial

I will be waiting for the next one!
 June 21, 2012  
 Want some international intrigue…or how about a paid assassin? Or maybe a book set in Canada…and Paris..and Germany and in a small rural town in the Dordogne River region of France. Throw in some corporate espionage and a young American woman being hunted by a killer and then top it all off with a classic French detective in the vein of Poirot or Maigret, clever but bored, flawed but dogged.
Yes, in this book you can have all that and more. It almost sounds like overkill, too much to include in a believable plot, but somehow Gerald Jay (a pseudonym) is clever enough to pull it off smoothly and produce a quite entertaining book.

This is more a thriller than a mystery, in that we know from the first pages who the hired killer is, Klaus Reiner. Or at least, that is the name he is going by at the moment. We witness his execution of a blackmailer as he gives her just one sharp shove down an empty elevator shaft, so clean, so neat, just like he likes things. And then we are there as two former French agents hire him to kill a tourist who will be vacationing with his wife and friends in the fictional village of Taziac. He has a clever plan but things go a little wrong and he ends up having to kill all four, an American and a Canadian couple, in a particularly gruesome way, a crime too loud to be covered up quietly as he promised those who hired him. So he needs to do some cleanup as well. He attempts to set up an Arab handyman for the crime..the man is an admitted thief and wife beater..and the regional police may have bought it, but when Inspector Mazarelle is brought in, it is a different story. Mazarelle was a very successful police inspector in Paris, but moved to Taziac so his dying wife could be at home for her last days. But she is now gone and the inspector is very, very bored with the petty crime of the area. This is the challenge he is looking for! Then to make the hitman's task ever harder, the daughter of one couple, an ADA from NYC, arrives to identify her parents' bodies and she too is after the identity of the real killer. So much for the killer to clean up now.

The real mystery, not clear at first in that pile of bodies at the vacation house, is who the intended victim actually is and who and why he was wanted dead. That's where all that international intrigue comes in, with twists and turns, until all working itself out quite neatly at the end. A not double cross a hit man after you hire him. It will not work out well for you.

This is the first book in a series, with a sequel promised in the near future. And I tell you, when it comes out, I will be reading it. Mazarelle is at the heart of this book and he is a great character, with his big mustache, his taste for a nice cognac and a plate of his favorite duck confit in the evening and his kitty, who better hope he has one of his nine lives left. The setting, mainly in the French countryside is delightful, even with a few neo-Nazis running around and the plot moves along at a good, believable pace to an exciting climax just made for the big screen.

Great Summer Read
 June 30, 2012
 To me, this is a great summer read. If you can imagine A Year in Provence as a murder mystery, then you get the flavor of this book-- a mysterious killing in the French countryside, an investigation among the markets and restaurants and country houses of the Dordogne, and a great rumpled detective in Mazarelle. Then add in the game of wits between the cold-hearted Reiner and warm Mazarelle--two rich characters locked in a mano a mano--and you have a wonderful vacation of a book from an assured author. A really enjoyable start to a new series....

The real mystery is -- who is Gerald Jay?                                                                                                                                                                                                                         -- RNG

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