Murder on the Eiffel Tower by Claude Izner

I thought Murder on the Eiffel Tower was a frustrating book to read. On the one hand it combines crime fiction and historical fiction, which is a favourite genre so I expected to be good. It begins really well as Eugénie Patinot takes her nephews and niece to the newly-opened Eiffel Tower in 1889. They sign the visitors’ book, the Golden Book and then Eugénie collapses and dies, apparently from a bee-sting.  Then there is Victor Legris, a bookseller (even better – historical crime fiction and a bookshop!) who is determined to find out what had really happened. More deaths occur, also caused by bee-stings. Could Paris really be invaded by killer  bees?

So far, so good, but the historical descriptions kept interfering with the mystery. Although it was interesting it slowed the book down too much and was distracting, to my mind. And the mystery wasn’t that good either, with too much guesswork by Victor, who kept changing his mind about who he suspected (and so did I).  I also thought the characters were rather flimsy and I didn’t really engage with any of them. Maybe it’s the translation but I wasn’t enthralled with the style of writing, either, which in parts was a bit tedious. I loved the cover, though.

I bought this book secondhand from Barter Books, without knowing anything about it or the author, attracted by the idea of a murder on the Tower and the cover. From the book I discovered that Claude Izner is the pen-name of two sisters, Liliane Korb and Laurence Lefèvre. They are both booksellers on the banks of the Seine, so that was why I found the book-selling scenes the best part of the book. They are also experts on 19th century Paris – hence the plethora of historical detail, I suppose.

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Gallic Books (1 May 2007)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 190604001X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906040017
  • Source: I bought the book

3 thoughts on “Murder on the Eiffel Tower by Claude Izner”

  1. Hi Margaret,

    Sorry to hear that you were a little disappointed with this book, that’s always so frustrating, especially when you think that it is just the right book and genre for you and the book beginning does sound quite compelling.
    I don’t mind detectives being a little pernickety or pedantic in their deductions, but one that keeps changing their mind isn’t quite the same thing.
    Likewise, I don’t always want to have worked out myself, who the perpetrator is too soon into the story, but not to be able to start making some eliminations along the way would be a little annoying.

    The stories must be quite popular, as I see that the sisters have six books in the series so far, but as you say, perhaps the translation is part of the problem

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  2. Margaret – Sorry to hear you were disappointed. I really like historical mysteries, so when I saw you were going to review this one, I was hopeful, too. I think I’ll probably wait on this one…
     
    Thanks, though, for the background information on Izner.

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  3. I recently read a French historical mystery, The Chatelet Apprentice by Jean-something Parot. Although it had good elements it was also a frustrating experience, as the historical research and the story were really quite separate, in this case it was Agatha Christie grafted onto the history. Reminded me of why I rarely read historical novels nowadays (having devoured many in my early teens).

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