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.


F. Molay's New Paris Homicide Mystery on Tour

Best-selling French mystery writer Frédérique Molay

Thanks once again to Emma at France Book Tours, we have an online tour planned out for Frédérique Molay's new Paris Homicide mystery The City of Blood, which comes out this month on the 20th. There be reviews, guest posts and giveaways. Thanks for visiting these bloggers. Here's the schedule:



 Thursday, January 15
Spotlight + Giveaway at Griperang’s Bookmarks

Friday, January 16
Review + Giveaway at The Discerning Reader

Sunday, January 18
Review + Excerpt + Giveaway at Musings of a Writer and Unabashed Francophile

Monday, January 19
Review + Guest-Post + Giveaway at Queen of All She Reads

Wednesday, January 21
Review + Giveaway at I Wish I Lived in a Library

Saturday, January 24
Review + Giveaway at Valli’s Book Den

Friday, January 30
Review + Giveaway at Words And Peace

Monday, February 2
Spotlight + Giveaway at Deal Sharing Aunt

Tuesday, February 3
Review + Giveaway at I’d Rather Be At The Beach


You can enter the giveaway here
or on the book blogs participating in this tour.
Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook.

Unexpected Paris: Translator's Thoughts

Jeffrey Zuckerman share some thoughts about Paris he had while translating The City of Blood, which comes out this month.

Paris feels too beautiful for cutting-edge science research, so well preserved are its cobbled streets and yellowing façades. Building restrictions keep nearly every part of Paris less than 121 feet tall (with only a few skyscrapers and the Eiffel Tower), and many blue street signs are lovingly repainted. This scheme is so entrenched in the French mindset that a recent futuristic film, Renaissance, envisioned a Paris that has its streets replaced with thick glass and expanded not by building up but by digging deep underground.

But how does this love for decrepit buildings mesh with science labs that need to be sterile and clean? Or with police investigations that require state-of-the-art technology? These were questions in my head as I translated Frédérique Molay's The City of Blood for Le French Book, and I was delighted to find answers in the book’s pages.

In one scene, where the police have sent items from a crime scene away for forensic analysis, the police captain comes to the research building at Quai d’Horloge. All the analysis there is being done not in the building itself, but in “mobile units set up in the courtyard.” The scene is right out of another sci-fi movie: “The lab was filled with workers in white coats, as well as machines connected to computers, printers, microscopes, and a surprising number of flasks and test tubes.”

But a far more ingenious workaround is achieved with investigations at the police headquarters. Everything happens at a massive eighteenth-century building on the Quai des Orfèvres, including suspect lineups. “The police didn’t have modern rooms conforming to twenty-first-century standards,” Frédérique Molay tells us. “The holding cells on the third floor were used. So the hallway lights had to be dimmed to keep suspects from seeing witnesses. And the witnesses had to talk quietly, because there wasn’t any soundproofing.” But sometimes respecting historical architecture just doesn’t do the trick.

What if the witnesses want to have a discussion? In one of the book’s most climactic scenes, Police Chief Nico Sirsky cannot use a modern room, so he decides to use glass in a completely different way from those futuristic filmmakers. He has several witnesses and criminal suspects squeeze into a room that has a huge one-way mirror in the middle. The suspects face the mirrored side, while the witnesses watch through the non-reflective side. And then the interrogation begins, and because of Nico’s ingenuity, the answer is found every bit as professionally as it would have been in a twenty-first century room.

It’s a perfect solution to a quintessentially Parisian problem—and yet another detail that made The City of Blood all the more fascinating to read, and to translate.

A translator's thoughts about Paris

Sirens of Suspense Interviews Frédérique Molay

The "French Michael Connelly"

The blog Sirens of Suspense ran an interesting interview of Frédérique Molay, author of The 7th Woman, Crossing the Line and the upcoming The City of BloodShe answers the following questions:

  • Do you feel there are any distinct differences between crime fiction and thrillers written for American versus European audiences?
  • You’ve been called the French Michael Connelly, what’s your reaction? How do you feel your styles are similar and how do they differ?
  • Did your career in politics influence your writing?
  • What made you choose a male protagonist for your series?
  • Can you tell us a little about CROSSING THE LINE? What’s coming next for you?

Read the interview here.

Frédérique Molay Gives Mystery Writing Tips

Writing tips from top mystery writer

Frédérique Molay, author of The 7th Woman  and Crossing the Line, shares some tips about writing mysteries with Elizabeth Span Craig. She starts with a warning: there is no secret recipe, and then goes on to give guidance on writing in a genre that "does more than entertain. It explores our deepest fears and anxieties. It distracts readers with stories about life’s troubles waters, translating the scandals we all experience everyday. Mysteries are a pulse-throbbing fictional investigation into the truths of human life." Read the blog post here. 

Summer Read: Award-winning Paris Mystery Now in Paperback

This week, we are releasing the paperback version of the award-winning international bestseller The 7th Woman edge-of-your-seat summer read. Combine a gritty police procedural, forensics and that je ne sais quoi only found in Paris and you get The 7th Woman by Frédérique Molay, who has been called “the French Michael Connelly.”

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