Occupied Paris, 1944. The swastika flies from the top of the Eiffel Tower, Nazi officers patrol the elegant boulevards and the once-vibrant city is shrouded in suspicion and fear. At a chic Right Bank address, a ghastly pile of dismembered bodies is discovered. Even in these sinister times, the crime scene is amongst the most harrowing veteran detective Georges Massu has ever seen. The property's owner, well-to-do Dr Marcel Petiot, immediately becomes the number-one suspect, but he has vanished without a trace. As the police delve into the doctor's past, they uncover a disturbing history of violence and corruption. Drugs, theft, links to the criminal underworld and a string of missing women: for Massu, it seems like a cut-and-dry case. But as the manhunt intensifies and all of Paris clamours for the latest news, the investigation leads the police to Gestapo files detailing Petiot's involvement in the city's secret escape network. Is Massu pursuing a sadistic serial killer or a hero of the Resistance? Who are Petiot's victims? In this fascinating true account of a case that gripped wartime Paris, David King draws extensively on new sources, including previously classified French files, to paint a chilling portrait of a murderer whose crimes devastated a city already in the grip of evil.
Expertly written and completely absorbing. Kirkus Reviews
David King is the author of VIENNA, 1814 ('Deftly paced and engagingly written.' PW) and taught European History at the University of Kentucky for many years.