The Paris Apartment, Lucy Foley’s latest psychological thriller is a dark, sinister and deeply unsettling take on the classic whodunnit. Read my full review.
The Paris Apartment Synopsis
Welcome to No.12 rue des Amants
A beautiful old apartment block, far from the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower and the bustling banks of the Seine. Where nothing goes unseen, and everyone has a story to unlock.
The watchful concierge
The scorned lover
The prying journalist
The naïve student
The unwanted guest
There was a murder here last night.
A mystery lies behind the door of apartment three.
Who holds the key?
(HarperCollins, March 2022)
The Paris Apartment in Audiobook Format: 12 hours and 25 minutes, read by Clare Corbett, Daphne Kouma, Julia Winwood, Sope Dirisu, Sofia Zervudachi and Charlie Anson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime-Detective, Drama
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What’s better than the classic locked-room mystery? For some, their attraction may be the intrinsic sense of urgency and magician-like performances of the perpetrators, but for me it’s the creativity and complexity of the puzzle that reels me in every time. Lucy Foley has recently made a name for herself using this formula (The Hunting Party, The Guest List), and simply updating it for the 21st century.
In her latest release The Paris Apartment she employs many of the genre tropes – an evocatively depicted historical building in an exclusive wealthy enclave seemingly a world away from the otherwise gritty streets of modern Paris, a sense of claustrophobic constraint within it and the language and cultural isolation beyond it, and power imbalances (wealth and familial), swirling suspicion and shifting alliances amongst an eclectic cast of characters with baggage aplenty – without it technically being a locked-room scenario.
It’s a beautiful building, but there’s something rotten at its heart. Now he’s discovered it he can smell the stench of it everywhere.
Notably though, she’s mined the voyeuristic potential of the traditional French apartment building courtyard formation and used a multi-character revolving first-person narrative format, to heighten watchful tension and this story’s sinister feel akin to Hitchcock.
The lights are on in the concierge’s cabin. Of course: that nosey old bitch never misses a trick. Creeping out from shadowy corners. Always watching, always there. Looking at you like she knows all your secrets.
Written or audiobook format?
Now, regular readers will know I enjoy alternating first-person narratives more than most, but when I began reading this novel, I struggled to gain real momentum and engage with the numerous characters’ narratives. So, when I found The Paris Apartment audiobook is performed by an ensemble cast of narrators, I switched to that format. At the time, that extra layer of differentiation was just what I needed to gain my bearings, and then I quickly became engrossed in the mystery. Needless to say, I did not switch back to the text.
While I’ve made a conscious effort to avoid spoiling Lucy Foley’s clever red-herrings and judiciously timed revelations in The Paris Apartment, I do feel an obligation to note this mystery spends considerable time treading in deep and dark psychological alleys. And so, could prove triggering for some. But for most, the audiobook version of this Parisian journey through shadows to light will be worth it for the ultimately satisfying yet still realistic denouement.
BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 3.5 / 5 ; Overall 3.75
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And, if you are reading this for a book club, this The Paris Apartment discussion guide is well worth checking out.
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‘Foley’s writing is simple and immersive, marrying the elegance and dark undertones of Paris with a reckless but determined protagonist to create an intriguing mystery.’ – The Harvard Crimson
‘Lucy Foley gives readers a relatable heroine in Jess, one whose shoes we can step in and whose missteps are as important as her breakthroughs. In fact, all of Foley’s characters are believable, each distinct without breaking into stereotypes ‘ – USA Today
About the Author, Lucy Foley
Lucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry, before leaving to write full-time. Lucy’s debut thriller, The Hunting Party, was an instant Sunday Times and Irish Times bestseller and was inspired by a particularly remote spot in Scotland that fired her imagination. She has since also published thriller The Guest List. Lucy is also the author of three historical novels, The Book of Lost & Found, The Invitation and Last Letter From Istanbul, which have been translated into sixteen languages. Her journalism has appeared in ES Magazine, Sunday Times Style, Grazia and more. Connect with her on Twitter / Facebook.
* My receipt of a review copy from the publisher did not impact the expression of my honest opinions above.