Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Review: Die Around Sundown by Mark Pryor

by Mark Pryor
Release Date: August 16, 2022
2022 Minotaur Books
Kindle Edition; 320 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250824820
Audiobook: B0B5FMHJQB
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Historical
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

Summer 1940: In German-occupied Paris, Inspector Henri Lefort has been given just five days to solve the murder of a German major that took place in the Louvre Museum. Blocked from the crime scene but given a list of suspects, Henri encounters a group of artists, including Pablo Picasso, who know more than they're willing to share.

With the clock ticking, Henri must uncover a web of lies while overcoming impossible odds to save his own life and prove his loyalty to his country. Will he rise to the task or become another tragic story of a tragic time?
My Thoughts
Die Around Sundown is the first book in a new series by this author.  While I did find the overall story enjoyable with two separate mysteries to unravel, I found I was not as engaged in the story as I thought I would be.  That being said, this is the first book where the author is setting the scene, the characters, the atmosphere, and so on, and I do think there is a lot of potential here for some really interesting story lines to develop.  
First of all, I did find the main character to be quite engaging. Detective Henri Lefort is an interesting character, a wise-cracking older detective who served in WW1 and struggles with shell shock. Angry at the German invasion into his city and the subsequent subjugation of the French people, Lefort has to temper his prejudices and learn to deal with the Germans and their growing crackdown on his people. Although the author doesn't directly state he has shell shock, Lefort has trouble dealing with everyday loud sounds so the reader understands what is happening without it being discussed.  Personally, I like how his quirks were introduced as part of his personality and the reader slowly gains an understanding of his past through learning about those 'quirks' and realizing how serious they really are. The more I learned, the more I developed empathy for him.  
The rest of the characters were nicely developed as well and I look forward to learning more about them in subsequent books.  I particularly enjoyed Mimi Bonaparte, a descendant of Napoleon; she was known for her interest in psychology, a new and somewhat scary field during this time period, a study which women were not really encouraged to pursue so I was fascinated by the scenes in which she was involved.  I do know a bit about her background so I am really curious as to how the author will use her in future books.
The plot itself was somewhat predictable, especially the second one involving Lefort.  I did find it interesting however, even if I figured it out quite early on.  I wondered how the author was going to conclude the situation and I wasn't disappointed. There was one clue that I missed completely so I was a bit gobsmacked at learning that truth, something I appreciated.  It's always nice when you don't see a twist coming your way even thought the signs were there. 
I felt like the author did a really good job at describing the tense atmosphere during this time period.  Lefort is quite a complex character, but I did feel like the Germans were much more one-dimensional stereotypical characters with little depth to them. I hope as the series progresses, the author does pay more attention to all of the characters as it will definitely enrich the overall story.  I also thought the pacing of the story was somewhat uneven where the tension was quite high, but then it was broken completely by the other mystery.  While I did enjoy the two mysteries, I did feel like they interfered with each other and created the uneven feel to the book; it did affect the tension and the overall fel of the story.  
Die Around Sundown was a solid start to a new series.  I liked the fact the story is told from the point of view of the French police during this time period and I am looking forward to some real conflict as the war continues and sides need to be taken as they didn't have an easy time during the Occupation.  This was a quick read and I do think readers will appreciate the insights into life at the beginning of the Occupation and the start of the Resistance.  The mystery itself was a standard mystery, a bit predictable, but enjoyable nonetheless.  I am interested in seeing what is in story for Henri in the next book, The Dark Edge of Night.



Post a Comment