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Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris | [David King]

Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris

Death in the City of Light is the gripping, true story of a brutal serial killer who unleashed his own reign of terror in Nazi-Occupied Paris. As decapitated heads and dismembered body parts surfaced in the Seine, Commissaire Georges-Victor Massu, head of the Brigade Criminelle, was tasked with tracking down the elusive murderer in a twilight world of Gestapo, gangsters, resistance fighters, pimps, prostitutes, spies, and other shadowy figures of the Parisian underworld. The main suspect was Dr. Marcel Petiot, a handsome, charming physician with remarkable charisma.
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Publisher's Summary

Death in the City of Light is the gripping, true story of a brutal serial killer who unleashed his own reign of terror in Nazi-Occupied Paris. As decapitated heads and dismembered body parts surfaced in the Seine, Commissaire Georges-Victor Massu, head of the Brigade Criminelle, was tasked with tracking down the elusive murderer in a twilight world of Gestapo, gangsters, resistance fighters, pimps, prostitutes, spies, and other shadowy figures of the Parisian underworld.

The main suspect was Dr. Marcel Petiot, a handsome, charming physician with remarkable charisma. He was the “People’s Doctor,” known for his many acts of kindness and generosity, not least in providing free medical care for the poor. Petiot, however, would soon be charged with twenty-seven murders, though authorities suspected the total was considerably higher, perhaps even as many as 150.

Who was being slaughtered, and why? Was Petiot a sexual sadist, as the press suggested, killing for thrills? Was he allied with the Gestapo, or, on the contrary, the French Resistance? Or did he work for no one other than himself? Trying to solve the many mysteries of the case, Massu would unravel a plot of unspeakable deviousness. When Petiot was finally arrested, the French police hoped for answers.

But the trial soon became a circus. Attempting to try all twenty-seven cases at once, the prosecution stumbled in its marathon cross-examinations, and Petiot, enjoying the spotlight, responded with astonishing ease. His attorney, René Floriot, a rising star in the world of criminal defense, also effectively, if aggressively, countered the charges. Soon, despite a team of prosecuting attorneys, dozens of witnesses, and over one ton of evidence, Petiot’s brilliance and wit threatened to win the day.

Drawing extensively on many new sources, including the massive, classified French police file on Dr. Petiot, Death in the City of Light is a brilliant evocation of Nazi-Occupied Paris and a harrowing exploration of murder, betrayal, and evil of staggering proportions.

©2011 Paul Michael (P)2011 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

“Erik Larson's tour de force of narrative nonfiction hasn't been matched - until now… While this work is painstaking in its research, it still has the immediacy and gasp power of a top-notch thriller. True-crime at its best.” (Booklist)

“A gripping story…this fascinating, often painful account combines a police procedural with a vivid historical portrait of culture and law enforcement in Nazi-occupied France.”(Publishers Weekly)

“Gripping….expertly written and completely absorbing” Kirkus Reviews)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (286 )
5 star
 (69)
4 star
 (97)
3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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3.6 (237 )
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3 star
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3.9 (240 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    DWR Minnesota, USA 10-06-12
    DWR Minnesota, USA 10-06-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    20
    20
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
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    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "More of a narative than a story"
    Would you listen to Death in the City of Light again? Why?

    Listen on fast to get through it in less time


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    Kind of slow, lots of background on the victims not much intrigue.


    Have you listened to any of Paul Michael’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Accents are kind of contrived.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Had no trouble putting it down.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cheryl San Mateo, CA, United States 06-28-12
    Cheryl San Mateo, CA, United States 06-28-12 Member Since 2006
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Too Slow and Depressing"
    Would you try another book from David King and/or Paul Michael?

    The book could have been fascinating, and there are just enough tidbits so far to keep me going, but I am not happy with the experience. Just feel compelled to slog on through to see what happens.


    Would you ever listen to anything by David King again?

    Likely not


    What about Paul Michael’s performance did you like?

    Good performance -- his occasional French accent helps.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    I think the story would make a good movie -- in fact it would be a better movie than it is a book. Too dry.,


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leigh W. Barrett Topeka, Kansas USA 12-15-11
    Leigh W. Barrett Topeka, Kansas USA 12-15-11 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    13
    4
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    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Too much detail in some areas not enough in others"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Not as compelling as I thought it would be.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Added more information about the victims and more specific detail about the investigation and how investigators were effected by the grisly nature of the case. Possibly more detail about Petiot's imprisonment. If I wanted to know that much about the liberation of Paris I would read


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Not sure I had one. Everything was written so matter of factly that there was little that truly stood out.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Not if it followed the book. It would be so long and so wordy as to make a movie hours long with little if any real sense of story.


    Any additional comments?

    Really Disappointing book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saman Houston, TX, United States 12-10-11
    Saman Houston, TX, United States 12-10-11 Member Since 2010

    sam_perera

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    41
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    3
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    Story
    "Captivating!"

    The truth is more fascinating than fiction – always. This is a story of a man who admits to killing 60+ people for the greater glory of country and accepts no blame for his crimes. The author has researched and delivered an excellent period crime novel that must be read to experience the true horror of the story. As in real life, many of the questions still remain unanswered as to the true methods of murder and the whereabouts of the fortune of the maniacal Doctor. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    11-23-11
    11-23-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    13
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Full face masks and other details"

    While I enjoy an information-packed historical horror as much as the next person, this way REALLY LONG and could have been better had it been edited. Also, I love me some Law & Order SVU, but there were many long, graphic descriptions that I struggled with. It is an interesting book, but not great. I was generous with the review because it wasn't out and out terrible (see my review of Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter if you want to read about a truly terrible book).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy Olson Denver, Colorado 11-10-11
    Nancy Olson Denver, Colorado 11-10-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    27
    19
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    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
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    Story
    "We expected it to read more like a story."

    It was good material but it was written full of dry, dull boring facts. It was not arranged in such a way as to keep the interesty.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katherine olympia, WA, United States 11-07-11
    Katherine olympia, WA, United States 11-07-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "long and boring"

    the story goes into to much history of WWII and not enough detail for the serial killer

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Marlton, NJ, United States 10-26-11
    Charles Marlton, NJ, United States 10-26-11 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Captivating Story/History Lesson"

    A fascinating mystery set in the backdrop of occupied France in WWII. As an avid reader of WWII history, I was completely unaware that these events actually took place. The book is well written but does often times delve into great levels of detail. It also describes the general attitudes of the French towards their German occupiers but also their attitude toward each other after the end of the war in 1945, another area with which I was unfamiliar. I chose the audio version of the book and I am very happy I did as I would have found trying to pronounce all of the French names frustrating. A highly interesting story. Definitely recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    levi clovis, CA, United States 10-21-11
    levi clovis, CA, United States 10-21-11

    Avid non-fiction audiobook listener as I drive. Love to learn and be entertained at same time. Have read over 300 audio books in four years.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Facinating story of a little known mad man"

    I read audio books for two reasons: to learn and to be entertained. This book does both. I had never heard this story, even though I have read many books about world war II and about true crime. I came across this book by accident when I was ordering an Eric Larson book. Just like Larson, in books such as "Devil in the White City", this author uses the backdrop of History as he tells the story of a mad man. Also like Larson, he is able to keep the reader yearning for more with every chapter. The narration is terrific. I usually prefer the narrator to just read the darned book, without too much dramatic interpratation. The fact that this narrator, however, speaks using the French and German accents when quoting really brings the story to life. I love this book, and look forward to reading more books by this author.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Oakland, CA, United States 10-21-11
    David Oakland, CA, United States 10-21-11 Member Since 2008
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    13
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting story, rambling tale"

    If it weren't for the fact that this is such a compelling and interesting story, the book would be dull and rambling. It was an amusing story despite the author. I stopped listening with about half an hour left.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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