THE PARIS APARTMENT by Lucy Foley
William Morrow; 2/22/22
CBTB Rating: 4.5/5
The Verdict: Must read and order ASAP, it’s now available with iDebit solution.
From the Scottish highlands to islands off the coast of Ireland, Lucy Foley has a knack for transporting her readers to highly memorable and wanderlust-worthy locations—and now, in her newest novel of suspense, she sets her sights on Paris. In THE PARIS APARTMENT, Lucy Foley invites readers to explore a darker side of the City of Light. Following a young woman escaping turmoil in her personal life for the refuge of her brother’s home in a posh Parisian apartment building, THE PARIS APARTMENT invites readers into a world of intrigue, where everyone’s a suspect, and nothing is quite as it seems. This Hitchockian story tells a tale of suspicion, secrets, and murder, all set against the enchanting backdrop of Paris.
THE PARIS APARTMENT reads like a cross between Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building, Riley Sager’s novel Lock Every Door, and the game of Clue; this immersive mystery delights and thrills in equal measure, weaving an engrossing tale that will keep readers guessing whodunnit until the book’s final pages.
Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up – to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? – he’s not there.
The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question.
The socialite – The nice guy – The alcoholic – The girl on the verge – The concierge
Everyone’s a neighbor. Everyone’s a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling.
Before we get any farther into this review, I need to say one thing to set appropriate expectations: this book is great in its own right, but it’s a bit different from Foley’s previous suspense novels, and readers will best appreciate this story if they go into it with this in mind.
THE PARIS APARTMENT to me marks a slight shift in tone for Foley, whose two previous thrillers have relied heavily on the classic locked room mystery trope. While THE PARIS APARTMENT does have much in common with Foley’s previous two novels – including a primary focus on a single setting, and a relatively fixed set of characters – this book, in my mind, does not read like the modern spins on the locked room mystery for which Foley has become so popular. Yes, THE PARIS APARTMENT does primarily focus on events that take place within the story’s central apartment building, and yes, it does primarily focus on a limited cast of characters, but there is an “openness” to the plot here that, to my mind, differs from the traditional setup of a closed circle or locked room mystery.
Long story short: this book felt more Hitchcock than Christie to me. Don’t go into this book expecting the exact same kind of premise that Foley relied on in THE HUNTING PARTY and THE GUEST LIST—but do go into it expecting another clever, immersive, impossible-to-put-down mystery.
In THE PARIS APARTMENT, readers follow Jess, a young woman who has just arrived to Paris from England. The trip was hastily-planned: when we meet her, Jess has just gotten herself in some trouble at the dive bar where she works in England, and her brother Ben – and his Parisian apartment – is her escape plan. But from the moment Jess arrives in Paris, things aren’t as they should be. Ben isn’t answering his phone, leaving Jess to sneak into the apartment building on her own in the middle of the night. And when she finally does make it to his apartment itself, she finds it empty. Ben is nowhere to be found, and his neighbors in the posh apartment building where he lives are unhelpful and unfriendly at best, suspicious and sinister at worst. As the hours pass and Ben doesn’t return, Jess becomes increasingly alarmed. What has happened to Ben? And could it have something to do with his neighbors? Alone and increasingly afraid for her brother’s wellbeing, Jess sets out on her own investigation into Ben’s disappearance—and, along the way, discovers herself drawn into a web of conspiracy and danger.
If you crossed Only Murders in the Building with Riley Sager’s top-notch thriller Lock Every Door, you’d get THE PARIS APARTMENT. Central to this story’s appeal and entertainment value is its setting, and, moreover, the masterful way in which Foley draws readers into her story’s intricate world. THE PARIS APARTMENT (unsurprisingly, given its title!) centers around an apartment building where no one is quite who they seem, and everyone has secrets they’re keeping. It’s a setting that somehow manages to be both wildly charming and wildly sinister all at once—readers will relish Foley’s immersive descriptions of Paris’ beauty even as they become increasingly suspicious of the secrets hidden within the apartment building’s walls. To truly immerse readers in this world, Foley expertly employs multiple narrators to guide readers through this maze. Our story’s protagonist, Jess, is an instantly-endearing character whose scrappiness and sheer determination to solve the mystery of her brother’s disappearance will keep readers hooked. But Jess isn’t the only voice readers follow in this story. Readers are also given the perspectives of a number of the apartment building’s residents, including Nick (Ben’s friend, who helped set him up at his current apartment), Mimi (a young woman in her 20’s), and Sophie (a wealthy housewife whose husband is a very powerful businessman). Through the multiple perspectives of this novel’s ensemble cast, Foley slowly but surely gives readers all the puzzle pieces needed to understand the dark goings-on of Ben’s apartment building—and to understand, in turn, just how at the mercy of the building’s tenants Jess and Ben truly are. Added bonus: Foley does a superb job lacing Rear Window-esque moments of voyeurism throughout the novel, expertly balancing the story’s drama and entertainment value with the down-to-earth, intimate glimpses we get of our neighbors’ lives through their apartment windows.
THE PARIS APARTMENT is a slow-burning story, but it’s a story that never lacks entertainment value. Given the book’s complexity and multiple perspectives, this story’s more measured pacing felt appropriate to me; readers will find it helpful to have ample time to meet the story’s central cast of characters and thoroughly understand the way their lives intersect. This book may unfurl in measured pacing, but Foley’s masterful sense of timing will keep readers hooked. The lingering questions surrounding Ben’s disappearance coupled with Jess’ increasing sense of unease are all the bait needed to hook readers, and Foley reels us in with an expert hand, building to a finale that ties together this story’s many threads with surgical precision and cinematic entertainment value.
If you love the game of Clue, Riley Sager’s Lock Every Door, and/or Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building, Lucy Foley’s THE PARIS APARTMENT might just be your new favorite book.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions are my own. Order it now via iDebit and enjoy the beautiful trip.