— Clay’s Pick —

Paris in the dark
Paris in the Dark
By Robert Olen Butler
The Mysterious Press
ISBN 978-0802128379
Publication Date: September 2018


Review by Clay Stafford

It is the Fall of 1915 and Germany is bombing France. Woodrow Wilson has kept Americans out of the war up to this point, but that does not stop young American men and women from volunteering to help France in their war effort. One such volunteer is Christopher “Kit” Cobb, a Chicago reporter who moonlights as an undercover agent for the U.S. government. He is in France to do a story on the volunteer ambulance drivers servicing the war front. Unexpectedly, someone begins bombing Paris cafes in an act of terrorism. Kit is assigned to find out who is doing it. It is not an easy task as the city is full of refugees and any one of them could be a German agent in disguise or a Parisian with German sympathies.

The story begins explosively. After only the first several pages, I was hooked. The plot progressed steadily and believably and gave a more than satisfying (and nail-biting) ending, but even more than the plot, it was the relationships that kept me engrossed. I felt thankful to get to know the nurses, doctors, and ambulance drivers, but it was the love story that especially appealed to me, which in tone was old-fashioned and romantically straight out of Casablanca. Not being an expert on this time period, I have no clue as to the historical accuracy of the novel, but it read real and I felt that I came away from it with a deeper understanding of the time period and the city. Paris came alive for me and I was transported there through the eyes of Kit. The writing itself is well-crafted and poetic, to the point and lean. This is an intelligent reader’s novel. It is genre fiction that feels like a literary masterwork. It’s one of the best books I have read this year.

Robert Olen Butler is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of seventeen novels, six short story collections, and one nonfiction book on the creative process.

Clay Stafford is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and filmmaker. He has sold over 1.5 million hardcover copies of his children’s adaptations and has seen his film work distributed internationally in over 14 languages. Four of his five staged murder mysteries have had Los Angeles premieres. He has reviewed books, plays, and films, writes near-daily book reviews for the Killer Nashville Book of the Day, has been quoted on book jackets, and has edited several PBS companion books associated with national series. Publishers Weekly has named Stafford one of the top 10 Nashville literary leaders playing “an essential role in defining which books become bestsellers” not only in middle-Tennessee, but also extending “beyond the city limits and into the nation’s book culture.” (PW 6/10/13). He is the founder of Killer Nashville (www.KillerNashville.com) and publisher of Killer Nashville Magazine (www.KillerNashvilleMagazine.com). He has served on the board of numerous nonprofits. Clay has a B.A. and M.F.A. and has been a professor or lecturer to several major universities. His list of current projects includes the award-winning feature-length documentary “One Of The Miracles: The Inge Meyring Smith Story” (www.OneOfTheMiracles.com) and the music CD “XO” with fellow mystery writer Jeffery Deaver (www.JefferyDeaverXOmusic.com). Previously associated with Universal Studios and PBS, he is currently President / CEO of American Blackguard, Inc. (www.AmericanBlackguard.com), a publishing/film and television/ music/entertainment company near Nashville, Tennessee. More information can be found at www.ClayStafford.com.