Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book for this review. All opinions are my own.
When I’m not working my two great passions are playing the piano and reading – specifically, reading mystery novels. This means I was extra excited when a review opportunity for Wasp-Waisted came across our collective virtual desk! The blurb promised a traditional Parisian noir novel with elements of the elite lingerie world, and I’m happy to say the book definitely lived up to the back cover.
The setup is pretty simple: Tough-as-nails Franck Guerin has been transferred from the Paris version of the Homeland Security to a regular crime unit of the Paris police. Even worse, his first case features a dead model wearing white lingerie in a photograph taken by a photographer who is also most likely a serial killer. He has to find the killer before the tabloids do, and hopefully before anyone else dies.
I won’t spoil any more of it for you, as the complex characters and interactions between them are part of what draws you in. However, if you’re a fan of both mysteries and a fan of lingerie you’re definitely in for a treat. Most of the clues in the case involve lingerie: the dead women are all wearing high end lingerie, and each set says something different about them. High end lingerie magazines and brands feature prominently, and there’s lots of discussion of why lingerie means so much to so many people. For Franck to understand the killer, he needs to learn why lingerie is important to them. As someone who works with the advertising side of lingerie, I especially liked the addition of the successful on the outside while struggling on the inside lingerie brand – it’s a common situation in the industry, and I found it to be an incredibly realistic addition to the plotline.
Franck’s major handicap in the novel is that the killer appreciates beauty (and kills because of it) while he’s more into paperwork and fact gathering. He’s also surrounded by women who he doesn’t really understand and who may be playing him, which he is both aware of and clueless about all at the same time.
If you’re a fan of Paris, this novel is worth picking up just for the descriptions of the city. The author lives there, and it’s clear as the characters walk the streets of Paris that he’s deeply in love with the city. I was also impressed by the author’s portrayal of more than the high end world of Paris – the novel also features the low grade pornography trade and the student art world prominently.
If you’re a fan of classic mysteries with a focus on Paris, this is definitely a book to pick up. I liked my copy enough to pass it onto a friend, and I’m going to be picking up the Kindle version of the next one in the series very soon.