Edouard Mas, Book 1
Synopsis: In Belle Époque Paris, the morgue is the place to see and be seen …
« This morning I was called upon to photograph the dead again. » So begins the story of Edouard Mas, a photographer’s assistant with a detective’s soul. Edouard’s job is to take pictures of corpses before they are carted off to the Paris Morgue. If the bodies are unidentified, they will be put behind glass for the whole city to view, in a morbid display of lost and found.
Edouard begins to come across more and more bodies stripped of their identification and laid out in methodical poses, and he knows he is dealing with those who dabble in art—the art of death. The morgue—their museum.
Edouard’s investigation takes him from the sterile halls of La Salpêtrière to the opulent, smoke-filled soirees of high society, but he must do everything in his power to stop the artists of death, before they go after somebody he loves …
In exquisite prose—so vivid you can almost taste the absinthe and hear the rustling skirts of the Moulin Rouge showgirls—Hunter tells an unforgettable tale of murder and lust in the City of Light.
Review: I was quickly drawn to this novel depicting a time in France that I find fascinating. Then a story in France by a foreign author is always interesting to see.
We alternately follow three different points of view. Moreover, we do not really understand at the outset when the characters will be reunited together and when the stories will be linked. Oh yes because it must be said that nothing presaged a crime scene photographer, a young girl from a good family and a student to intersect one day in their life.
Thus we follow Augustine, a young girl in love with a married man who does not love her back and because of her strange behavior within her family, she is placed in an institution, La Salpêtrière, where they think she is hysterical. She does not really know if she’s crazy as everyone says it, or if she just does not have the proper behavior because of her one-way relationship. Augustine is a young pretty touching girl who discovers feelings and what this implies, though she does not really know what to do with all that. It’s a pretty quiet person, manipulated and innocent that we discover through the chapters in the form of diaries she wrote to tell what‘s going on in her life.
The second character that we follow is Edward. He is a photographer, a designer who gets to take the soul of his subjects to make real works. He is called on many crime scenes but the last he attends are strange and the police do not seem interested in what he has to say. Edward therefore decides to understand what is happening and who is responsible for it all. But it could be much more complicated than expected, and people close to him could end up in danger.
Our third hero is none other than Charles. This man, a student, is fascinated by death. He goes with his friends to the morgue every week to discover the death’ art along with this. A strange character who meets at this place a young unhealthy woman, V, and opens up to a world of death. V is a manipulative person, sick, dark who plays with death. She will project Charles in a world of murder which he can not get out. It must be said that the beautiful girl is very good at obtaining what she wants to have and Charles will do anything for her.
It was a very strange novel. I had a little trouble to really get into the story and I‘m not sure whether I have completely succeeded. But one thing is certain, the author shows us something very different from what we can find, and I was curious to see how everything would be linked together. It was also interesting to see what these characters would do next. We’re a bit lost in the chapters which are presented in different forms as I said, with letters, diaries, but also usual chapters. It was an interesting discovery even if I have a little trouble explaining exactly what my feeling was.