Paris Book Fair and Paperback

Frédérique Molay's story has something truly special. Her first published novel took France by storm when she won the Prix du Quai des Orfèvre—this is The 7th Woman, which we were so very proud to count among our first titles. She then wrote Crossing the Line and The City of Blood. However, after that, for reasons beyond her control and related to the occasionally obscure world of publishing, she lost her French publisher, and almost stopped writing altogether. 

I told her to send me the manuscript and, if nothing else, we would bring it out in English. We did better than that. It was published by Amazon Crossing in January in English—Looking to the Woods, and at the same time by Amazon Publishing Europe in French as—Copier n'est pas jouer.

As of yesterday, Copier n'est pas jouer is in paperback as well in France, published by City Editions. And Frédérique spent last weekend at the Paris Book Fair, as did both books.

 

The Secret to Writing Authentic Paris Police Procedurals

Frédérique Molay has reaped awards and praise for her Paris Homicide series. These mysteries set in Paris "blend suspense and authentic police procedure" says Paris mystery writer Cara Black. As we prepare the translation of the fourth book in the series, I went to Paris to see Frédérique in her current place of work—the French Senate. It seems part of her secret comes from leading a double life of writer and politician, which gives her a front-row and participative view of the French legislative system, and by extension the legal system.

 Anne Trager and Frédérique Molay in Paris, at the French Senate.

Anne Trager and Frédérique Molay in Paris, at the French Senate.

Frédérique, who is now 47 and the mother of three grown children, graduated from the French grande écolé the Institut d'Études Politique and has a Master's degree in Business Administration. She began her career in politics and administration as chief of staff for a commission of the French National Assembly. She then worked for local government in Burgundy. In 1998 she ran in the European elections, and in 2001 was elected in Saône-et-Loire.

At the height of this brilliant political career, Molay was also writing crime novels and won France's prestigious crime fiction prize the Prix du Quai des Orfèvres for The 7th Woman, which went on to become an international bestseller. She took a break from politics to write Crossing the Line and The City of Blood two other titles in the Paris Homicide series.

In addition to being a knight in the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin—an order of wine lovers who promote Burgundy wines—from 2011 to 2013, Frédérique taught French in middle school, sharing her passion for writing with young teens.

The political virus never left her, however, and in June 2015, after finishing the French manuscript of Looking to the Woods , Frédérique returned to politics, working as chief of staff for a newly elected senator. She now splits her time between Paris and Chalon-sur-Saône, between police procedurals and politics.

Thanks to this double life, she gave me an inside tour of the French senate, where I saw Napoleon's throne in the gilded Salle des Conférence, visited the magnificent library with paintings by Eugène Delacroix, and took the back stairs to the Senate Chambers.

I'm wondering if she will ever write a Paris Homicide mystery that takes place in this palace the now houses the Senate—the Luxembourg Palace was built by Marie de Medici. 

 

 

Happy Bastille Day

We chose three edge-of-your-seat Paris mysteries to discount for a summer sale that kicks off just in time for Bastille Day on July 13. A steep discount of 60% off the regular ebook price will apply through July 30.

In the Paris Homicide series by Frédérique Molay, there’s no rest for Paris’s top criminal investigation division. Chief of Police Nico Sirsky—a super cop with a modern-day real life, including an ex-wife, a teenage son and a budding love story—watches over the streets of the French capital in a series that leads readers behind the scenes with the French police and into the coroner’s office. It has the suspense of Seven, with CSI-like details, giving a whole new dimension to Paris.

Frédérique Molay Interviewed in The Big Thrill

Thanks to Azam Gill, The Big Thrill ran a long interview of Frédérique Molay this month, following the release of The City of Bloodwhich is part of the Paris Homicide series.

Find out if she is related to Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Knights Templar, what she thinks about the differences between French and American thrillers, transcending the limits of a French readership, French "Jack the Rippers," where she finds her inspiration to write these police procedurals set in France, and much more.

Temple of Meat?

The latest Paris Homicide mystery takes place for the most part in the vicinity of La Villette park and museum complex in the northeastern part of the city. The complex is built on what used to be the city's central slaughterhouses. One nickname for the area gave the name to the novel: The City of Blood. But, that's only looking at the dark side. If you go by a local restaurant's take on neighborhood history, it could have been called a "temple of meat." 

Of course, this being France and all, there is a food heritage related to that time in the city's history, and the city's butchers had their favorite cuts of meat. Today, if you see entrecôte la villette on a menu, it refers to a steak with chopped shallots, fried lightly in butter (lots of butter), served up on top of the meat, with a pinch of chopped parsley, a few drops of lemon juice, salt and freshly ground pepper.

In the novel, Sirsky and his team end up at a restaurant in the neighborhood and they eat meat, of course, rare, with fluffy fried potatoes. If you happen to be in Paris, you can find the chateaubriand des bidochards and a pavé des mandataires at a restaurant called Au Boeuf Couronne, at 188 Avenue Jean Jaurès in the nineteenth arrondissement—the "Temple of Meat in Paris," according to the website.

 Mystery set in Paris

Unexpected Paris: La Villette

Translator Jeffrey Zuckerman on a lesser-known part of Paris: La Villette.

For most tourists, Paris is a very compact city—here the Eiffel Tower, there the Arc de Triomphe, a few blocks away the Louvre—and any expeditions to, say, Monet’s garden at Giverny are a good two hours away. But of course Paris is more complex than it would appear at first glance.

 The new Paris Homicide mystery.

The new Paris Homicide mystery.

Le French Book asked me to translate a Parisian mystery novel—The City of Blood by Frédérique Molay—and when I read its first page, I realized we were in a part of Paris most people weren’t thinking of. A proper look at its map would show a large park within the city limits, to the north and the east: the Parc de la Villette. Once the site of Paris’s animal slaughterhouses (earning the place its nickname “The City of Blood”), it has in the past few decades been turned into a grassy meadow with beautiful buildings and sculptures.

This is the setting for The City of Blood’s murders, and watching Police Chief Nico Sirsky make his way through the park’s various corners reveals a deeply fascinating place. Many pictures of the Parc de la Villette feature the Géode, a large and mirrored Epcot-like geodesic dome that houses an IMAX theater. There are various themed gardens, including a perfectly maintained French church garden. Red architectural follies provide views over the entire park.

And there are large, grassy meadows. In the book’s opening pages, a trench is being excavated and the archaeologists at work come across a skeleton among the remains. The whole thing has unexpectedly been caught on national television, and so Nico’s forces have to scramble to stay ahead of the cameras and the crowds. It is a whole new terrain for the police forces, who usually find themselves in dark alleyways and narrow, eighteenth-century buildings.

The Parc de la Villette lost its nickname decades ago, but The City of Blood brings its history back, both in the research the police do and in the discoveries they make during their investigations. It may no longer be a slaughterhouse for animals, but Nico and his loyal force are working their hardest to make sure it doesn’t become a slaughterhouse for people. And the result is a riveting book, a perfect addition to the Paris Homicide series.

Frédérique Molay Talks About Choosing a Hero

Award-winning author Frédérique Molay of the Paris Homicide series—The City of Blood is now out in the world—talks about what inspired her main character Nico Sirsky at the blog Queen of All She Reads. She begins the post with this:

"When an author chooses a hero in a novel, it is hard to distinguish what in that character comes from the author’s own life and what comes from other sources. What I can say is that I wanted the main character in the Paris Homicide series to head up the Paris Criminal Investigation Division. That became clear to me the day I met the actual man in that position, who necessarily inspired the character."

Read the rest and enter the book giveaway here: Queen of All She Reads.

Many thanks to France Book Tours for setting up this tour.

New Release, Great Praise, Launch Price

 Award-winning French author of the Paris Homicide mystery series

Don't miss the next Paris Homicide mystery, The City of Blood by Frédérique Molay, and translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman. Today is the official release date.

It is a story about dealing with loss and has been characterized as "a classy French police procedural." Art and history combine with suspense and intrigue, transporting readers to present-day Paris for another mystery by an author who can “give CSI writers a run for their money."

Librarians are already calling The City of Blood "an excellent read," and booksellers are recommending it: “If you like reading mysteries with good descriptions of the physical setting.”

Want to start the series? We have a special launch price on the The 7th Woman ebooks, so grab a copy before January 28.

What's the book about? When a major Parisian modern art event gets unexpected attention on live TV, Chief of Police Nico Sirsky and his team of elite crime fighters rush to La Villette park and museum complex. There, renowned artist Samuel Cassian is inaugurating the first archeological dig of modern art, three decades after burying the leftovers of a banquet. In front of reporters from around the world, excavators uncover a skeleton. Could it be the artist’s own son? And does that death have anything to do with the current string of nightclub murders by the “Paris Butcher”? On the site of the French capital’s former slaughterhouses, the investigation takes Nico and France’s top criminal investigation division from artists’ studios to autopsy theaters and nightclubs in hopes of tracking down the murderer who has turned this Paris park into a city of blood.

Unexpected Paris: The City of Blood

Quick, what's the first image that comes to mind when you hear "Paris"? I'd bet it's not the Parc de la Villette, although this large park and museum complex in the north of the city is quite a place, as we learn in the next Paris Homicide mystery, The City of Bloodby Frédérique Molay. The park has an interesting history, which makes it a fine setting for... murder, of course. Here's an excerpt.

“The park is seeping with history,” Clavel rhapsodized. “La Villette—which means la petite ville, the little city—was once the site of a Gallo-Roman village. It was a fertile area where people made their living on the land. It was also the site of the Montfaucon gallows, which were built to render King Louis IX’s verdicts in the thirteenth century.”

Kriven grimaced and looked entirely focused on every word the woman was saying. Nico figured he was visualizing the dead men hanging from their ropes, their skin giving off a pestilential odor as they dangled over the pit beneath the scaffold.

“It was at La Villette that Baron Haussmann decided to create a single location for Paris’s animal markets and slaughterhouses, which Napoleon III inaugurated in 1867. La Villette became the Cité du Sang, the City of Blood.”

Cows stabbed in the forehead, calves and lambs slit across the throat, pigs bled dry before being roasted, animals hung from metal hooks and carved up—sights and smells as nauseating as those of the Montfaucon gallows. Now the images were flowing through Nico’s overactive brain.

“Even today, ‘La Villette’ is the name given to a thick and bloody cut of beef served in many Parisian restaurants.” 

These former slaughterhouses were the focus of a 1949 film by Georges Franju called The Blood of Beasts in English. It's, well, from 1949, and the faint of heart may be happy it is in black and white. Here it is.