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
“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)
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This is an outstanding book regarding a serial killer operating in Paris, Fr. when this city was occupied by a Nazi government. He paints a picture of a "physician" using his position to systematically murdering his patients (for their money or they were a nuisance), people seeking to flee France, or just for the shear joy of killing. Petoit was a monster protected by the Nazis for no good reason other than the pain and misery in inflicted on a terrified French society. Massau, a great detective, was responsible for the successful pursuit of Petoit, but was sideline due to the politics of collaboration, and reinstated. I am certain that Petoit was able to function and hide due to the Nazis in charge. They protected Petoit even when he was under arrest for murder and subversive activities. He walk away when he should have she executed.
The author goes to great length to portray Paris during the occupation. This helps to understand the nature of the governments of Paris, German and French, the culture which lived in great terror, and the inability of legitimate law enforcement to prosecute murders such Petoit. I great enjoyed this book.
This is a fascinating story. I am not sure why these events are not more widely known.
Mostly well written, but a little confusing at times. A great listen, but you really have to listen closely at times to follow.
Listen on fast to get through it in less time
Kind of slow, lots of background on the victims not much intrigue.
Accents are kind of contrived.
Had no trouble putting it down.
This is one of the best true crime fictions I have ever listened to. It was spellbinding. And of course there was a nice amount of history added about the resistance movement, trials of collaborators, and the liberation of Paris itself in 1944 It is a shame that we have so few true crime stories which take place in Europe.
The book really depicts the occuption of Paris and what it was like for the inhabitants. It demonstrates how easy it was for Petiot to dupe people into believing he was letting them escape and then murdering them.
The opening part of the book where the police finally discover the horror ot the Rue le Sueur with all the dismembered body parts and furnace going full blast. I am surprised that a man who evaded capture for so long was so stupid as to attempt to burn the body parts in the basement and think he would not get caught.
It is truly an amazing story and what is more amazing was that they actually discovered the identity of some of the victims and so were able to try and convict Petiot.
The reader is excellent and has good French pronounciation. Readers will not be disappointed in this book. It is one of the best true crime stories I have read. it is remakably complex as there is no way of knowing how many victims there really were. He apparently started murdering people back in the 1920's and it is amazing that it took over 20 years for the law to catch up with him.
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.
Good performance -- his occasional French accent helps.
I think the story would make a good movie -- in fact it would be a better movie than it is a book. Too dry.,
Not as compelling as I thought it would be.
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
Not sure I had one. Everything was written so matter of factly that there was little that truly stood out.
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.
Really Disappointing book.
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).
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.
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