website statistics Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris - PDF Books Online
Hot Best Seller

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

Availability: Ready to download

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, r 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.


Compare

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, r 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.

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Beata

    Several years ago I watched a documentary on a killer in Nazi-occupied Paris, and recently I read a book whose author mentions this particular title, so I decided it was time to find out more about one of the most famous cases of serial killers in modern history. Mr King did tremendous research into the case of Marcel Petiot, describing his early life, his crimes and the trial which was held just after the war. The author draws a clear line between the evidence and speculation, and I appreciated Several years ago I watched a documentary on a killer in Nazi-occupied Paris, and recently I read a book whose author mentions this particular title, so I decided it was time to find out more about one of the most famous cases of serial killers in modern history. Mr King did tremendous research into the case of Marcel Petiot, describing his early life, his crimes and the trial which was held just after the war. The author draws a clear line between the evidence and speculation, and I appreciated it. Marcel Petiot's crimes are beyond human understanding, the the exact number of his victims will never be known. The way the murders were committed is still in the speculative spectrum. What was particularly horrific was the fact that, apart murders for financial gain, he prayed on victims, mainly Jews, who wanted to escape occupied France to South America. Petiot was a psychopath, with zero empathy or emotional intelligence despite having a high IQ. This book is definitely for readers who are willing to accept some most graphic descriptions in order to make an attempt to understand the drive behind most creul acts. I did try, and I admit I am certain what Petiot did is beyond my comprehension.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Huxtable

    Ultimately, a bit disappointing. How could you go wrong with all these elements? A serial killer in Nazi controlled Vichy France, who claims to be part of the French Resistance, executing informants - and it's a true story! King's narrative never really finds a good stride, and he takes many a detour and digression on the way through the discovery, investigation, and trial of Dr. Petiot, the serial killer of the title. Some digressions - such as details about the lives of Sartre, Camus, and Picas Ultimately, a bit disappointing. How could you go wrong with all these elements? A serial killer in Nazi controlled Vichy France, who claims to be part of the French Resistance, executing informants - and it's a true story! King's narrative never really finds a good stride, and he takes many a detour and digression on the way through the discovery, investigation, and trial of Dr. Petiot, the serial killer of the title. Some digressions - such as details about the lives of Sartre, Camus, and Picasso during the Vichy regime - are more compellingly written than the main narrative. I found myself wishing for a book just about that topic. I think if King had focused on one or two characters - perhaps Petiot and one of the investigators - and told the story from that perspective, the narrative would not have seemed so disjointed. King's use of every witness and player, and giving every person's story the same weight makes it difficult for the reader to sort out the most important information from the incidental. I would recommend only to readers who are very interested in WWII themed non fiction.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    NO SPOILERS!!! ON COMPLETION: When you decided to read this book it is important to realize that this is a work of nonfiction. Although a verdict was reached at the trial, there remain numerous unanswered questions. The author has scrupulously investigated all the known facts and clearly presents them to the reader. Througout the book he made evident what is known fact and what is speculation. In the epilogue he presents his own speculations concerning the questions that remain unanswered. I appre NO SPOILERS!!! ON COMPLETION: When you decided to read this book it is important to realize that this is a work of nonfiction. Although a verdict was reached at the trial, there remain numerous unanswered questions. The author has scrupulously investigated all the known facts and clearly presents them to the reader. Througout the book he made evident what is known fact and what is speculation. In the epilogue he presents his own speculations concerning the questions that remain unanswered. I appreciate tremendoulsy the author's aim and ability to differentiate between fact and speculation. If you are going to enjoy the book you must know what you will be given. This is not a fictitious mystery thriller. You are served the facts. I cannot think really of any way this book could be improved. I personally stumbled occasionally with all the details, but these facts and details are necessary for a thorough analysis of the crime. As I have mentioned below, other topics than the crime are sprinkled througout the book. You come away with a glimpse of life in Occupied Paris. You are served a platter of literary and philosophical trends, as well as nitty-gritty daily problems. The additional information about what Camus and Sarte were doing filled out the picture marvelously. The prime focus is a crime investigation, but humor is thrown in top. . The book ends sooner than you think because the the final pages are acknowledgements, notes, and an index. These follow the epilogue. They begin at 81% of the book! The epilogue was a perfect ending. It tied all the strands together. *************************************** AFTER 60%: When I was halfway through the book, I clearly understood what had happened. At this point I was wondering, why is 1/2 of the book left to read?! There is a good reason for that. The trial is now being described. It is a circus! You simply have to read how it plays out. The year is now 1946. The Parisians have finally a liberated city, although collaborators continue to be flushed out. The Parisians have gone through so much. The "times and their past experiences" play into the hands of the defense. Dupin represents the prosecution: One of the trial's low points was when Dupin protested that "human life is sacred" and the audience laughed. (60% of egalley) It is amazing how Petiot draws the audience to his defense. It is amazing the ploys he uses. Totally unbelievable Or is it so unbelievable? Such continues today. This is a spoiler-free review. I cannot tell you in specifics what Petiot does at this trial or how the prosecution fails to properly prove its case given the inital ruckus and resulting need to rapidly close the proceedings. You will have to just pick up the book yourself! The facts, the figures and the details are all here. I do not know how this will conclude. I am in the dark as much as you, except I do know what Petiot did. I do know how he covered his tracks. If he was crazy, he surely was intelligent at the same time! ***************************************** AFTER25%: What have I learned? Don't be too hasty in judging a book! I thought it was boring in the beginning due to an excessive amount of extraneous information. Now I cannot put the book down! The crime is .......terrible! You are given the gruesome details. There is a torture chamber, dissection, a lime pit and a basement stove spewing sickening odours. But the bodies are not strangled or beaten or stabbed. There is no blood. And who is being killed? And why? Absolutely riveting. Although the details are horrendou,s you alos get marvellous descriptions of the Nazi Occupation of Paris. There is humor too. So the Commissaire Massu is attacked by the reporters demanding information. He throws out a few sparse comments. The commissaire felt like he was throwing crumbs to pigeions outside Notre Dame. (25%) Times haven't changed, have they?! I am talking about the reporters. PS..Gaeta, no! Do not listen to this book in the audio form. It could definitely be too gruesome. In addition, the facts may be difficult to digest. ************************************** AFTER 17%: Now it is getting better. I had to say that immediately. Other topics than the crime are discussed - such as the writers and artists living in Paris at this time: Jean Paul Sarte, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Pablo Picasso and his lover Francoise Gilot. I simply had to correct my previous misjudgement. You see, it is important not to give up on a book too soon. Now I will just read. won't say any more. AFTER 12%: I do not enjoy reading this. The first pages drew me in and had me interested, but now there is an overload of facts. I am not saying that is wrong. Somebody who really wants to understand this case thoroughly, well for them, this might be just perfect. For me, I do not need to know the entire carrier history of the inspector following the case or every singe bad deed Petiot has done in his entire life. He is no angel and has been doing bad stuff from day one. Rbrty detail imaginable is presented. Erik Larson's book The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America covered other interesting topics, such as architecture and park design and the fair, so you didn't have to just stomp in the gruesome facts of the crime. I need that diversion. I will continue a bit longer. I do want to give the book a fair chance! *********************************** Netgalley offered it:0) and Naomi recommended it, so I have to read it NOW! It immediately pulls you in. It is non-fiction, but reads as fiction, at least at the start. The author has done extensive research. ********************************** Before reading: Does anyone else recognize the similarity (both in title and theme) between this book and Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America? Am I the only one who is thinking: get your own idea buddy! At least be a bit more imaginative with your title! Is it going to be as good? Am I assuming that because I really enjoyed Larson's I will also enjoy this? Ah, it is availabe from NetGalley at no cost. Thank you Naoml, for telling me. If you do not know about NetGalley please see the link Naomi has left in the comments. You get an egalley and review it. You do not need to review every book you receive from them. You do have to set up a profile. You can get books that work on Kindles and many other appliances. I must try the sample I guess and take a chance. It does look good. The sample at Amazon will be available on Sept 20, 2011.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Moira Russell

    This was really quite good. Unsettling, but good. It's one of the v few true crime nonfiction books I've read (and, dear God, I have read TOO MANY of those) which didn't feel at all exploitive - unlike The Devil in the White City which I couldn't finish reading (will try again -- just not -- now....). While City explicitly, and often heavy-handedly, contrasted the idea of Modern Technological Progress with H. H. Holmes' horrible murder house, the hook for this story is, here's a serial killer in This was really quite good. Unsettling, but good. It's one of the v few true crime nonfiction books I've read (and, dear God, I have read TOO MANY of those) which didn't feel at all exploitive - unlike The Devil in the White City which I couldn't finish reading (will try again -- just not -- now....). While City explicitly, and often heavy-handedly, contrasted the idea of Modern Technological Progress with H. H. Holmes' horrible murder house, the hook for this story is, here's a serial killer in Occupied Paris: how do you tell this maniac from the "den of murderers" in the HQ of the Gestapo? What chance does law and order have when police and lawyers are not only up against the worst in human nature in one individual, but surrounded by an entire mad, murderous culture? I don't think the book is quite as good as Laura Miller puffs it in Salon.com ("masterpiece," no) but it's genuinely thoughtful, and apart from some gag-worthy descriptions of how the police found the murder site in the first few chapters, it's not that gory, either. There is no sense the author is revelling in shockingly inhuman details (again, looking at you, White City). The story is thoroughly, carefully researched, and soberly told. There's no real suspense about who the murderer is, but the book is gripping anyway, mostly in detailing how Petiot lured his victims into his death trap and brazenly dodged the police (view spoiler)[ -- as Miller puts it, at one point he works "under a false identity as a captain in the counterespionage service, where he participated in the investigation of his own crimes." Read that again (hide spoiler)] . The real reason for retelling this story is spelled out by the author himself in the last paragraph of his book (which I'm going to spoiler-cut because it also spells out one of the most horrifying and tragic aspects of the whole story). (view spoiler)[ What we do know is that this story is an important one that should never be forgotten. It is not simply about a prolific and profitable serial killer, one of the most profitable in history. Behind the ominous cloud of smoke that poured from the chimney in the heart of Paris's chic 16th arrondissement was a terrifying tragedy. A predator had brutally exploited opportunities for gain, slaughtering society's most vulnerable and desperate people, the majority of them being Jews fleeing persecution. Dr. Petiot had become the self-appointed executioner for Hitler, gassing, butchering, and burning his victims in his own private death camp. (hide spoiler)]

  5. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Putting the "meh" in "dénouement" I really wanted to enjoy "Death in the City of Light." It certainly *looked* intriguing; German-occupied 1940s Paris is not your customary setting for a true crime thriller. Unfortunately author David King couldn't quite deliver a finish that lived up to the pursuit of fugitive doctor Marcel Petiot as he tried to evade French authorities following the discovery of dozens of bodies in and around his Paris townhouse. By filling the first part of his novel with t Putting the "meh" in "dénouement" I really wanted to enjoy "Death in the City of Light." It certainly *looked* intriguing; German-occupied 1940s Paris is not your customary setting for a true crime thriller. Unfortunately author David King couldn't quite deliver a finish that lived up to the pursuit of fugitive doctor Marcel Petiot as he tried to evade French authorities following the discovery of dozens of bodies in and around his Paris townhouse. By filling the first part of his novel with the sensationalized and hysterical media accounts and popular rumors that swirled around Petiot prior to his capture, King set a fairly high bar that the tale's resolution--or lack thereof--simply couldn't reach. After a somewhat breathless account of the manhunt to find Petiot, King repeatedly promised "a circus" of a trial...only to deliver a dud of a narrative, peppered with witness stand exchanges that were more catty than clever and utterly failing to build a sense of tension for the reader. The verdict arrives with a flop rather than a bang and King closes with a bland explanation of what he believes happened based on his research of the case. While the "we'll never know the true story, but..." style of ending can be satisfying on its own, King doesn't quite manage to carry it off. This was to be expected, perhaps, given his repeated violation of the "show, don't tell" axiom throughout the book. King includes multiple chapter-length asides about the activities of figures such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Albert Camus for no other apparent reason than a clunky attempt to make the story seem more "Parisian." Although King is necessarily constrained by the documented facts of the Petiot case, he did himself no favors by starting with "tabloid" when the close was somewhat destined for "tepid."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    During the Nazi occupation of Paris, a demonic serial killer was at work. When discovered, Paris investigators uncovered a tangled web of intrigue involving a respected physician, underworld figures, Gestapo connections, French Resistance fighters, Jewish refugees, and much more. David King's meticulous research draws the reader into the investigation and subsequent trial of one of the most cunning criminals and famous criminal trials in French history. This book is not for the squeamish--but it During the Nazi occupation of Paris, a demonic serial killer was at work. When discovered, Paris investigators uncovered a tangled web of intrigue involving a respected physician, underworld figures, Gestapo connections, French Resistance fighters, Jewish refugees, and much more. David King's meticulous research draws the reader into the investigation and subsequent trial of one of the most cunning criminals and famous criminal trials in French history. This book is not for the squeamish--but it is a riveting read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn Day

    One of my strangest guilty pleasures is reading true crime nonfiction. (Brandon calls me the “black widow.”) I think there’s a part of all of us that is fascinated by the extent to which people can snap and do insane, unthinkable things. The serial killer in this book, Dr. Marcel Petiot, is a particularly nasty case of crazy. The authorities weren’t sure exactly how many people fell victim to him—the number ranges from 27 to over 100—and the cause of death has never been determined either. (Theor One of my strangest guilty pleasures is reading true crime nonfiction. (Brandon calls me the “black widow.”) I think there’s a part of all of us that is fascinated by the extent to which people can snap and do insane, unthinkable things. The serial killer in this book, Dr. Marcel Petiot, is a particularly nasty case of crazy. The authorities weren’t sure exactly how many people fell victim to him—the number ranges from 27 to over 100—and the cause of death has never been determined either. (Theories range from poisoning by injection to gas.) But, what they do know is that after investigating a fire at one of Petiot’s Paris properties, there were dozens of bodies spread throughout the home—from the basement stove to a courtyard pit. As if the story isn’t horrific enough on its own, this is also happening at the tail-end of the Nazi occupation of Paris during World War II. The Nazi Gestapo, Jewish families seeking to flee the city and Marcel Petiot all intersect in nightmarish, unbelievable ways. Who are Petiot’s victims? Where did they come from? It turns out, that with a few exceptions, most were Jewish residents of Paris who paid him for assistance leaving the country. They never left the abandoned townhouse he used as an operational base. Unfortunately, while the story is gripping, the book meanders and even bores at times. The writing is often dry and straightforward and that becomes problematic when King turns to describe Petiot’s trial (which takes up a lengthy portion of the book). The afterward, which contains King’s own theory of how Petiot killed his victims, also fails to adequately wrap up a fascinating aside about a man who claimed to have escaped Petiot’s clutches. It’s not a perfect book, but it is a very good (if disturbing) one.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brian Kelley

    On the one hand I am tempted to suggest that it is comforting to learn another culture screws up high-profile cases too. On the other hand, the surreal circumstances of serial killer Marcel Petiot are too astonishing not to know--for seventeen years I've taught a WWII unit as a companion piece to a month with the Diary of Anne Frank. My students not only read Anne's diary but they self-select two other books of interest about the period. In all of my digging through fiction and nonfiction, poetr On the one hand I am tempted to suggest that it is comforting to learn another culture screws up high-profile cases too. On the other hand, the surreal circumstances of serial killer Marcel Petiot are too astonishing not to know--for seventeen years I've taught a WWII unit as a companion piece to a month with the Diary of Anne Frank. My students not only read Anne's diary but they self-select two other books of interest about the period. In all of my digging through fiction and nonfiction, poetry and ideas for lessons, research topics based on the culture of the 1940s I never once recall coming across the name Marcel Petiot. David King's Death in the City of Light astonished me. Who knew that a serial killer operated right beneath the toothbrush mustachioed nose of the world's most notorious serial killer. I understand that it was difficult to compete with Hitler. However, this isn't your run-of-mill serial killer--Marcel Petiot, a trained surgeon, lured Jews back to his house of horrors by offering help fleeing Occupied Paris. Despicably, he preyed on frightened people, terrified people who believed this man would save their lives, they trusted him and paid a lot of money in cash or jewels for the relief of the safe passage offered to South America. Petiot drugged them, murdered them in a homemade gas chamber (equipped with a viewing lens so he could watch), then carved them into pieces which ended up decomposing in a quicklime pit in his yard or stoking the stove in the basement. Beyond the cruel and savage nature of his actions, Marcel Petiot pandered to the media, yawned at the judge and jury, taunted the prosecution and made an absolute spectacle of the trial. Rumors at the time swirled that the Nuremberg Trials would be put on hold so lawyers and politicians could attend the closing events of the Petiot trial. From the outset, the judge lost control of the courtroom, the prosecution bungled evidence, and the public laughed at and with Petiot. A trial for the murder of anywhere from 20 to over a 100 people (many represented by family or loved ones) turned into a source of daily laughs. For me, the book is as much about Petiot as it is about the era. Death followed millions during and after World War II--King suggests that a society so immersed in death had a difficult time finding the nausea, fear, and loathing for a serial killer who frankly admitted murdering many. He claims to have been murdering Nazis--another nauseating show of disrespect to the families of the people he butchered. The details in the book satisfy the curiosity as King digs deep into Petiot's history as well as the evidence, the files and testimonies, and the French investigators who hunted Petiot down and brought him to justice. A highly recommended read for anyone interested in history or even pop culture--this Petiot trial is one of the enormous moments of pop culture that I never heard about from the 1940s.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lea

    Let me start this off by commenting on true-crime in general. While I find the subject interesting, I usually don't read books like this -- it feels wrong, being entertained by another person's misery and misfortune. But, for whatever reason, historical crime writing is somehow "okay" for me. Current crime = no, historical crime = okay. It's weird, and probably hypocritical, but there it is. I was really interested in reading this book -- I think I even bought it as a pre-order on Amazon. I had j Let me start this off by commenting on true-crime in general. While I find the subject interesting, I usually don't read books like this -- it feels wrong, being entertained by another person's misery and misfortune. But, for whatever reason, historical crime writing is somehow "okay" for me. Current crime = no, historical crime = okay. It's weird, and probably hypocritical, but there it is. I was really interested in reading this book -- I think I even bought it as a pre-order on Amazon. I had just read The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science, which is also about a French serial killer, and I expected this to be just as good. Well . . . no. I really didn't like this book, although I can't say it wasn't well written. I think the biggest problem for me was the subject, Dr. Marcel Petiot, as well as the setting, Occupied Paris. The story is incredibly complicated, with all of the secrecy and double-crossing happening at that point in time. I will say that I now know more about the French Resistance than I ever expected to -- not necessarily a bad thing, as I love history. Where the killer in The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science was mentally ill and in the grip of his own perverse sexual needs, Dr. Petiot is cold, composed at all times, unreachable and unknowable. For some reason, his restrained personality left me feeling like I just couldn't get a handle on him or his motives (although he killed for the most mundane of reasons (view spoiler)[pure greed (hide spoiler)] ), and the resolution felt unsatisfying. The book did pick up at the end for me -- the author speculates on some of the unsolved aspects of the case, and I found his detective work compelling and convincing. I would recommend this to fans of true crime or those who enjoy reading about World War II. While it didn't hold my interest as well as I would have liked, I don't fault the author -- I think the subject matter itself was at issue.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Charlene Intriago

    When I first started reading this book, I had to double check to make sure this was a non-fiction book. The first few pages read like fiction. The setting is Paris, 1944, a city under horrible duress during the Nazi occupation, and along comes a serial killer. There are a lot of details in this book and many people involved. There were a couple of parts where I had to backtrack to keep all the characters straight. Dr. Marcel Petiot who is finally brought to trial is described in so many differen When I first started reading this book, I had to double check to make sure this was a non-fiction book. The first few pages read like fiction. The setting is Paris, 1944, a city under horrible duress during the Nazi occupation, and along comes a serial killer. There are a lot of details in this book and many people involved. There were a couple of parts where I had to backtrack to keep all the characters straight. Dr. Marcel Petiot who is finally brought to trial is described in so many different ways by friends and relatives and the prosecution and the defense that the reader has no idea who this man truly is and what he has or hasn't done. And the trial (and the French justice system) is not to be missed. It was definitely a three ring circus. Suspenseful to the end - I had no idea which way the jury would go - definitely worth the read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

    This book was a mess. I'm not sure what book the Booklist guy was reading, but it wasn't the same one I was. For an author who boasts that he access to records about the killer, Dr. Petiot, from both the German and French Governments, he really had nothing to say from them. There is no definative answer about whether the Doctor was actually a Nazi spy, or part of the French Resistance, and more importantly, the author didn't seem to try and find out. World War II wasn't that long ago-there are p This book was a mess. I'm not sure what book the Booklist guy was reading, but it wasn't the same one I was. For an author who boasts that he access to records about the killer, Dr. Petiot, from both the German and French Governments, he really had nothing to say from them. There is no definative answer about whether the Doctor was actually a Nazi spy, or part of the French Resistance, and more importantly, the author didn't seem to try and find out. World War II wasn't that long ago-there are people you could ask about that. There were other problems too. First, the timeline was all over the place, so I had a very hard figuring out what happened when. The Doctor had been accused of murder before, but whether that was when he was country doctor fighting drug dealing charges, or while at medical school, I couldn't tell you. Second, there was no explanation of the French Court System, which is also pretty important. Did you know that, in the French Court, the families of the victims can hire their own lawyers who can question the defendant? Or that everyone can just argue with one another the whole time? Apparently they can. A short explanation of how the French court worked would have made the trial section of the book (the second half of it) make much more sense. Third, the main detective leaves the case right before trial starts. That makes sense, as much as real life does, but the author never establishes another main character to follow. As a result, the second half is a weird free-for-all of stuff going on. It would have been nice to have the main prosecutor to follow when the main detective left the story. Finally (and this is the worst), the author misuses words. Using "disinterred" for "dismembered" is not a typo; its a serious flaw. To do it repeatedly is troubling. This book has the feel of a well-researched piece of writing, as opposed to the tabloid feel many true crime books can have. It's not actually any better than them-quite the opposite-but it seems like its much better. I'm not sure if the author had done so much research he forgot no one else knew all of the information he did. The story of Dr. Petiot is very interesting. I hope someone writes a book worthy of it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    This is an outstanding non-fiction account; I almost gave it 5 stars. And it could also demand a review that would go on for 3 or 4 full pages. It encompasses so much of the knot of both Nazi and Resistance authorities in subversion and clash with each other BEYOND the war-time CITY criminal behavior of neither faction, the "picture" is never clear. Not who belongs where, or who is in the "know" to whom. It's like looking at 150 or more characters through the multi-lens eye of a fly to try and d This is an outstanding non-fiction account; I almost gave it 5 stars. And it could also demand a review that would go on for 3 or 4 full pages. It encompasses so much of the knot of both Nazi and Resistance authorities in subversion and clash with each other BEYOND the war-time CITY criminal behavior of neither faction, the "picture" is never clear. Not who belongs where, or who is in the "know" to whom. It's like looking at 150 or more characters through the multi-lens eye of a fly to try and describe any one fleeting refugee or individual act in this historic window at the "21" address. Only a couple of facts are clear, one being it is Paris during the first 5 years of the 1940's. It is extremely hard to describe this book as just a true crime, or a war, or a murder, or a conspiracy story. There's more of the psychological than would be norm in any of those. And travelogue, it becomes that at times, as well. It took many days to read it, and I dropped the Kindle version for a hard cover that had chart and pictures. And an easier to read chapter sub-title too, as that contained quotes. This is not an easy read. You have Camus and Satre and other well known celebs in the mix. Not the least in the forensics field, like Bertillon, who I have read in length about before. No plot synopsis here. But if you have read "The Devil in the White City" this book is similar. Those are the only two I have come across that have such depth to a Serial Killer tale, beginning to end. This book shocked me. Not with its horrid brutality or grim and gruesome reality of evidence material, as much as with some other "new to me" reactions to the interactions of these Parisians of that time. For instance, all of these learned and exalted writers, actors and VIP personages of both sexes living under the Nazi's that were French, were definitely the most fed, highest living and otherwise "well met fellows" to the invaders. That the collaboration was that deep and life so highly duplicitous for great numbers of the French elite- I "knew" this, but really did not understand the ramifications. Could the good Doctor do this during a less convoluted and introverted to authority and law era? I would bet so. He was charming. This is a book of 100's of characters, but it is well worth the patience.

  13. 5 out of 5

    N.N. Light

    This scared the crap out of me! Highly recommend, especially if you like true crime. My Rating: 5 stars

  14. 5 out of 5

    Scott Hitchcock

    Interesting piece of WWII history that I wasn't aware of. A sociopath hiding under the regime of the Nazi psychopaths in France and butchering his victims. To make it worse he was doing doctor and told people he had connections to get them out of France. Using one of these methods he robs and murders his victims in his own little concentration camp right in Paris with his own gas chamber. The facts are interesting if the telling a little dry. Interesting piece of WWII history that I wasn't aware of. A sociopath hiding under the regime of the Nazi psychopaths in France and butchering his victims. To make it worse he was doing doctor and told people he had connections to get them out of France. Using one of these methods he robs and murders his victims in his own little concentration camp right in Paris with his own gas chamber. The facts are interesting if the telling a little dry.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Karen Wellsbury

    The story is so fascinating, and compelling that I got lost in this book a couple of times. It took me a very long tine to read, because I went backwards and forwards checking things and looking up stuff on the internet. Great and thought provoking

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    Absolutely enjoyed this book and I can't wait for the author's next one. Here's a short review; for a longer one, click on through. First, a thank you to Crown for the ARC of this book, and an apology for taking so long to get to it. On March 11, 1944, the air on the rue Le Sueur was filled with thick black smoke, smelling of "burnt caramel, burnt rubber, or a burnt roast of poor quality." The smoke had been coming out of a townhouse at number 21, and had been going for five days, but on that d Absolutely enjoyed this book and I can't wait for the author's next one. Here's a short review; for a longer one, click on through. First, a thank you to Crown for the ARC of this book, and an apology for taking so long to get to it. On March 11, 1944, the air on the rue Le Sueur was filled with thick black smoke, smelling of "burnt caramel, burnt rubber, or a burnt roast of poor quality." The smoke had been coming out of a townhouse at number 21, and had been going for five days, but on that day, the heat made the smoke worse than it had ever been. When firemen came to investigate, they came upon a horrible sight in the basement, to which they had traced the origins of the smell. They found piles of bones, arms and legs strewn about, and an overwhelming odor of decomposing and burnt flesh. But there were even more horrors in store for Georges-Victor Massu, the Commissiare of the Brigade Criminelle when he arrived -- the townhouse's courtyard hid a pit filled with "decomposing bodies of varying stages," whose numbers the Commissaire could only guess at. One of the people joining the crowd before Massu's arrival identified himself as the owner's brother, and entered into a strange conversation with the patrolmen at the scene: " 'Are you good Frenchmen?' the man asked. 'What kind of question is that?' 'Then listen carefully. What you see there are the bodies of Germans and traitors to our country.' Discreetly he asked if the authorities had been notified... 'That's a serious mistake,' the man said. 'My life is at stake, as are the the lives of several of my friends who serve our cause'." He went on to say that he was the leader of an organization in the French Resistance, that he had three hundred secret files and identification cards of other members of the Resistance, and that he needed to destroy them before the Germans could get them. Rather than detaining the man, the patrolman let him go. Later, when he saw a picture of the owner of 21 rue Le Sueur, he was shocked to discover that this was the man he had talking to all along. But that March night, the man vanished into the darkness, and became the focus of a manhunt that took several bizarre twists and turns as it progressed. Death in the City of Light is the story of one of the most abominable yet unknown (at least to me) serial killers of the twentieth century, Dr. Marcel Petiot, a predator in every sense of the word. Some years prior to the discoveries at rue Le Sueur, authorities had already dealt with Petiot, who had been involved in the narcotics trade and fraud, and he came up on their radar when people associated with him began disappearing. He had served as a mayor and a coroner, his careers ending in scandal. Claiming to be part of a Resistance group that helped people leave Paris, Petiot had offered his services, at a rather hefty cost, to assist Jews (among others) to get out of Paris, into France's Free Zone, and ultimately out of the country. His activities captured the attention of two sections of the Gestapo: military security (IV E-3) got involved because of the escape of German soliders who would rather desert than face the possibility of going to the Eastern Front, and the section involved in the Final Solution (B IV) was also interested due to the escape of Jews from Paris. He was ultimately was picked up during a sting operation, tortured and imprisoned by the Gestapo, but strangely, via a ransom paid by this brother, Petiot was released from Gestapo custody just two short months prior to the discovery at rue Le Sueur. Ransoming prisoners of the Third Reich was nothing new; the author discusses how even Jews deemed "low security risks" could be ransomed at the right price, but considering that two divisions of the Gestapo were investigating Petiot's organization, and the nature of his crimes, the question of why he was released is a big one, and serves as part of the foundation for the major question posed in this book: who did Petiot really work for? Was he, as he claimed, a member of the French Resistance, helping people to their freedom and helping "fellow patriots escape the vengeance of the Germans," or was he actually working for the Gestapo? Or did he work for neither -- was there something else going on? The author lays out cases for each scenario, leaving the reader to judge. Death in the City of Light is an interesting book that presents a series of complex questions that may never be completely answered, but King has done a wonderful job tying together several threads of detail to produce a story that is so bizarre and so twisted that it could only be real. I highly recommend it. I'm not big on true crime, but this is so different than anything I've read, and it appeals to the historian in me. I've noticed in several reviews that people have compared this book to Erik Larson's Devil in the White City, but don't even go there, and it's really unfair to make that comparison. People have also written that the book was boring and unengaging; I found it to be the opposite. My only problem with this book is that in the ARC there are no maps or photos, and these would have been very helpful. But all in all, what a bizarre case this was -- and King's writing, his attention to detail and his ability to sift through untold hours of research made this an interesting and very enjoyable read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kimba Tichenor

    This was a late night read pick and as the title states, this book focuses on the true story of a serial killer in Nazi-occupied Paris. However, the setting -- occupied Paris -- does not figure prominently in the narrative. Rather than recreating the context and setting of the killings, the author focuses on detailing the gory details of the killings, which are repeated so many times that it leaves the reader numb.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lolly's Library

    During the years of Nazi occupation of Paris, Marcel Petiot, a seemingly respectable doctor, murdered an unknown number of people. Was he a German sympathizer, using his own form of a "final solution" on innocent Jews who merely wanted to escape the city? Was he a member of the French resistance, acting as judge and executioner towards those he saw as friendly towards the Nazi occupiers? Or was he merely a cunning sociopath who took advantage of the chaos of the times to inflict as much horror a During the years of Nazi occupation of Paris, Marcel Petiot, a seemingly respectable doctor, murdered an unknown number of people. Was he a German sympathizer, using his own form of a "final solution" on innocent Jews who merely wanted to escape the city? Was he a member of the French resistance, acting as judge and executioner towards those he saw as friendly towards the Nazi occupiers? Or was he merely a cunning sociopath who took advantage of the chaos of the times to inflict as much horror and sadistic torture on those victims he managed to convince to walk through his door? What follows is a complicated, often convoluted trek through the oppressed streets and shadowy corners of Paris as the author attempts to answer those questions. While the book does lay out, quite vividly, the incompetence of the French police force and the near-absolute ineffectiveness of the court system during those crazy, confused times, what the book doesn't do is create a compelling, coherent story. It's obvious the author did an exhaustive amount of research; what's not obvious is some sort of thread binding the story together. King attempts to illustrate the desperate gaiety exhibited by the glitterati who stayed in Paris despite the tramping of Nazi boots down her vaunted (some would say hallowed) streets by interspersing chapters detailing the plays put on by Sartre and Picasso in intimate salons for the edification and entertainment of a select few of Paris society; he also inserts chapters illustrating the desperate last stand of the French government and its leaders as they tried to keep German forces away. However, instead of creating a well-rounded view of this particular era in history, these chapters seem...awkward and jarring. They don't fit into the narrative, at least not fluidly, and they certainly don't enhance it. Speaking of the narrative, I'm very sorry, but it's a snooze-fest. I started the book with every intention of becoming absorbed in the tale of a search for a mass-murderer who cleverly used the chaos of the times to get away with murder, literally. A third of the way through, I found myself supremely bored and from then on, I skimmed. The points King presented, illustrating the "progress" of the case, seemed scattershot and more like a courtroom presentation of witnesses and suspects rather than a breathless tale of a chase through the city. While we do, eventually, get to know Petiot and see him for the delusional maniac that he was (although the true scope of his crimes was never fully examined by the court at the time, leaving us, the reader, questioning whether he was truly as diabolical as he was painted or if he got away with more than was discovered), it comes about in a rambling, uneven (and excessively name-dropping) manner. In the end, while I agree this is a grim and grisly portrait of a disturbed individual, one who perpetrated numerous crimes upon an innocent and unsuspecting populace, it is neither a gripping nor mesmerizing account, as proclaimed by the advertising campaign. Having read only the ARC, I don't know what the publisher's final plan or layout for the book may be, but I will say I believe the story would be helped by a few photos of the main players, perhaps a map of the city or a plan of the house in which the crimes took place. As a visual person, I feel such aids would greatly help illuminate the book and perhaps give the story more life.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    It's a book about a French doctor who lured people into a secret chamber in a more or less abandoned mansion in the heart of Paris during the Occupation, killed them there (we never learn exactly how, which while not exactly the author's fault, does not make it easier at the end of the book) while peering through a peephole at them, then went on the lam, was caught, tried, and executed. It's a book in which the reader discovers that every single gangster in France apparently has an alias ("Guill It's a book about a French doctor who lured people into a secret chamber in a more or less abandoned mansion in the heart of Paris during the Occupation, killed them there (we never learn exactly how, which while not exactly the author's fault, does not make it easier at the end of the book) while peering through a peephole at them, then went on the lam, was caught, tried, and executed. It's a book in which the reader discovers that every single gangster in France apparently has an alias ("Guillame Le Febvre, more commonly known as the "Norman" when he wasn't calling himself "Marcel D'Amboise" --- like that). And we learn that there are lots of gangsters in France, and by golly, David King is going to work every damn one of them into this story if he has to use a shoehorn to do it. We are introduced to characters who are presented as significant and then never pan out to be of any real interest at all --- the doctor's brother, who delivered the quicklime in which the unfortunate victims were . . . well, let's just say "reduced"; his wife, who eludes a manhunt for her by sitting in a small café until she catches the next train out of town. Everybody in this story seems to have had no trouble eluding French manhunts. I don't want to disparage the gendarmerie, but let's pull it together, lads. It's a boring book about a mass murderer! Betcha didn't see that coming.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jill Hutchinson

    As the presence of serial killers in our midst becomes more known to the public, here is one that is right up there with the Green River Killer in regard to the number of victims......and few people are aware that this man ever existed. In Occupied Paris, Dr. Marcel Periot, known as "The People's Doctor" for his many acts of kindness and generosity to his patients, may have a darker side. Bodies and body parts begin showing up in the Seine and the police are baffled. When a mysterious fire bring As the presence of serial killers in our midst becomes more known to the public, here is one that is right up there with the Green River Killer in regard to the number of victims......and few people are aware that this man ever existed. In Occupied Paris, Dr. Marcel Periot, known as "The People's Doctor" for his many acts of kindness and generosity to his patients, may have a darker side. Bodies and body parts begin showing up in the Seine and the police are baffled. When a mysterious fire brings the fire brigade to a house owned by Periot, they find a charnel house of horrifying proportions. Periot is arrested and brought to a trial that verged on comic opera. He is charged with 27 murders but the actual number was considerably higher, perhaps as many as 150. The author paints a fascinating picture of Nazi occupied Paris and the people who may have had some connection with these horrifying crimes.....the Gestapo, the Resistance, collaborators, gangsters, spies, and other shadowy figures who inhabited the City of Light. A brilliant book, well researched, and one that will chill you with its unspeakable evil. Not for the faint of heart.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  22. 4 out of 5

    Yibbie

    Concerned neighbors call the police over smoke coming from an unoccupied building. The police enter trying to save anyone in the building only to discover they are too late, years too late. There are bodies everywhere. Normally, there would be no question as to who was guilty. Surely it must be the man who specially fitted up this house of horrors and is now on the run. But – a few streets away the Gestapo is also torturing, and killing people, and the Resistance is exacting their revenge on Ge Concerned neighbors call the police over smoke coming from an unoccupied building. The police enter trying to save anyone in the building only to discover they are too late, years too late. There are bodies everywhere. Normally, there would be no question as to who was guilty. Surely it must be the man who specially fitted up this house of horrors and is now on the run. But – a few streets away the Gestapo is also torturing, and killing people, and the Resistance is exacting their revenge on Germans, collaborators, and informers. So, despite the multiple bodies and missing people, was there even a crime? Was it a war crime? Was it just war? Or did a murder simply take advantage of the chaos and terror of those times to kill undetected? Parts of this book are as beautifully written as any mystery novel. It’s full of gripping descriptions, and the action is well-paced. The author speculates occasionally, but always indicates where he is speculating. I appreciate that in a history book. There were a couple of things that distracted me or annoyed me. The rambling from the story was annoying. For example, Sartre and Picasso while in Paris at the time really have nothing to do with this story, but King interrupts the story several times to describe what they are painting or writing. It doesn’t happen that often so isn’t too distracting. More distracting, for me anyway, was the sheer number of people each introduced with a brief biography even if they have very little to do with the story. That aggravated my struggle to keep all the people correct. Be warned it is gruesome. It not only details the discovery of the many dismembered, skinned, and burned victims, but also briefly describes some of the torture methods employed by the Gestapo. Much of Dr. Marcel Petiot’s story involves characters from the seamier side of Paris society. There is also one profanity.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This enthralling book begins with the investigation of a revolting smell emanating from a house in Paris in 1944. Although the city, under occupation, has already seen endless suffering the gruesome discoveries within the house shocked even wartime Paris. Inside there were body parts in the basement, a lime pit full of bodies and a soundproofed room which resembles a torture chamber. The house belonged to a doctor - Marcel Petiot - who briefly put in an appearance to claim he worked for the resi This enthralling book begins with the investigation of a revolting smell emanating from a house in Paris in 1944. Although the city, under occupation, has already seen endless suffering the gruesome discoveries within the house shocked even wartime Paris. Inside there were body parts in the basement, a lime pit full of bodies and a soundproofed room which resembles a torture chamber. The house belonged to a doctor - Marcel Petiot - who briefly put in an appearance to claim he worked for the resistance and was quickly allowed to disappear by police on duty. Commissaire Massu therefore lost his first battle in his attempt to solve the crime of the century. Dr Marcel Petiot was a physician who lived with his wife of seventeen years, Georgette, and his fifteen year old son Gerard. The author outlines Petiot's early life, which shows many worrying signs of what was to come - early sadistic behaviour and an interest in pornography, bed wetting, stealing, a loner, expelled from school and yet very intelligent. He almost had a CV announcing he would be a future serial killer by todays definitions and his behaviour was compounded by WWI which left him institutionalised for three years and not discharged until 1919. However, his ambition was remarkable and he started his medical career and stood as mayor in his career. Even at this early stage though, there were accusations of stealing, lovers who disappeared or died in mysterious circumstances. The book goes on to look at the evidence and the victims found in Petiot's house, his eventual arrest and then his trial, which started on March 18th 1948. It was expected to be, "the most sensational criminal trial in modern French history" and actors, film stars and ladies of high society flocked to the courtroom. The evidence for the prosecution weighed a ton, including so many suitcases left behind by those that had passed through Petiot's house, that the courtroom had the appearance of a station waiting room. Petiot was accused of the murder of twenty seven people, the only ones from the body parts that could be identified and who included Jews fleeing occupied Paris, gangsters and prostitues. During the trial, Petiot seemed thoroughly at ease, verbally sparring with the prosection and making the crowd laugh, signing autographs and seeming to enjoy himself hugely. Petiot himself argued that he was a member of the resistance, who had been held by the Gestapo and had only killed Germans and collaborators. This is not only a great true crime book, but an interesting view of wartime Paris. Petiot's crimes were aided by the time, where people disappeared daily and many were living under assumed identities. When human life was declared sacred during the trial, those in the court openly laughed. It was a time when life was indeed cheap and there were those who took advantage of others desperation. This is an extremely interesting read and well researched. Lastly, I read the kindle editon of this book and illustrations were included at the very end.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rob Kitchin

    This book is a fairly pedestrian affair, setting out the main features of the case, the investigation and the trial. Despite having access for the first time to the classified French files, it is unclear what new insights King brings to the story. And despite the focus on Petiot, he remains somewhat an enigma as there are still so many holes to his biography and very little concerning his motives, other than broad speculation. The narrative also suffers from some odd asides. For example, the mat This book is a fairly pedestrian affair, setting out the main features of the case, the investigation and the trial. Despite having access for the first time to the classified French files, it is unclear what new insights King brings to the story. And despite the focus on Petiot, he remains somewhat an enigma as there are still so many holes to his biography and very little concerning his motives, other than broad speculation. The narrative also suffers from some odd asides. For example, the material on Sartre, Camus, Picasso and other celebrity artists, whilst interesting, is totally redundant to the story. If the idea was to give an insight into Paris during the occupation, it would have been much more useful to provide accounts of everyday lives, or given the claims in the trial, the organisation and activities of the resistance. We are given neither. In many ways the book raises more questions than it answers, and some of the answers that are given are unsatisfactory. For example, at the end of the book, the author claims to know how the victims were killed (a fact never established during the investigation or trial), drawing on an obscure book that recounts the tale of a survivor. The problem is, whilst the hypothesis is plausible, the scenario cannot be survived! Overall, an interesting topic dealt with in a mundane, often dry, fashion.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Noran Miss Pumkin

    Disappointment!!! In 400 plus pages, I would like some of the numerous historical loose ends that the authors writes about, would be tied up at the end. NO!!! Was the killer killing for his own personal gain, or did he just enjoy killing and slicing, Was was a with the Resistance, The Nazi, the Comies?!?! All of them or none of them. Where did all the wealth go to? some of it had to be traceable. I was led along an enticing path, only to be disappointed. I hiked for miles, on a high school band Disappointment!!! In 400 plus pages, I would like some of the numerous historical loose ends that the authors writes about, would be tied up at the end. NO!!! Was the killer killing for his own personal gain, or did he just enjoy killing and slicing, Was was a with the Resistance, The Nazi, the Comies?!?! All of them or none of them. Where did all the wealth go to? some of it had to be traceable. I was led along an enticing path, only to be disappointed. I hiked for miles, on a high school band trip, to see some caves. The Cave Bluffs-well the bluff was that there were NO caves to see, just a Bluff. Just like this book, an interesting traverse, but the ending leaves wanted for want you saw via the title......

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany

    An interesting companion piece to "The Killer of Little Shepherds," by Douglas Starr - non-fiction accounts of serial killers in France that take place about 50 years apart from each other. "Death..." even references some of the forensic science techniques whose development was discussed in "The Killer of Little Shepherds," which was fun, having read them very close to each other. In the end, I enjoyed the writing in "The Killer of Little Shepherds" a lot more than I enjoyed this book. My favori An interesting companion piece to "The Killer of Little Shepherds," by Douglas Starr - non-fiction accounts of serial killers in France that take place about 50 years apart from each other. "Death..." even references some of the forensic science techniques whose development was discussed in "The Killer of Little Shepherds," which was fun, having read them very close to each other. In the end, I enjoyed the writing in "The Killer of Little Shepherds" a lot more than I enjoyed this book. My favorite part of this book was the description of the trial, but unfortunately, that was only the last quarter or so of the book, and up until then, my attention waned frequently. My favorite aspect of "The Killer of Little Shepherds," was instead how it engagingly discussed the sociological scope of how crime and mental illness were handled in 19th century France as well as the development of the new forensic science techniques. This book tried to do something similar with addressing the historical context of living in Nazi-occupied France, which I give it credit for. I didn't feel it was as successful at handling its big-picture concept as the other book was, though.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    A historical true crime nonfiction book about an alleged serial killer in World War II. Very interesting, but the pace of the book was a struggle for me, as the author would relay SO MANY anecdotes that only sometimes related to the main story. The trial part of the book was really exciting and where it picked up for me -- the French legal system in the 1940s is BAFFLING to me! How can you just have so many people YELLING at the SAME TIME while in COURT?! I was not a huge fan of waiting until th A historical true crime nonfiction book about an alleged serial killer in World War II. Very interesting, but the pace of the book was a struggle for me, as the author would relay SO MANY anecdotes that only sometimes related to the main story. The trial part of the book was really exciting and where it picked up for me -- the French legal system in the 1940s is BAFFLING to me! How can you just have so many people YELLING at the SAME TIME while in COURT?! I was not a huge fan of waiting until the last chapter to learn some pretty crucial details, but I think that helped position what was fact vs what was interpretation on the author's part. Excited to discuss this in impromptu COVID-19 book club, as I think others will have interesting perspectives on this.

  28. 4 out of 5

    BookishStitcher

    I've read a lot of history books about WWII, and I had absolutely no idea about this horrifying serial killer in Paris. This story was so disturbing and upsetting. I'm not sure I should have read it. I've read a lot of history books about WWII, and I had absolutely no idea about this horrifying serial killer in Paris. This story was so disturbing and upsetting. I'm not sure I should have read it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Terri Lynn

    When the Nazis and Gestapo call you a "dangerous madman", you have to be pretty bad! This book covers the case of a very unusual serial killer who was also a doctor and at one time a mayor. His name is Dr. Marcel Petiot and this book tells the true story of his brutal reign of terror over the citizens of Paris and other areas of France before and during the occupation by the Germans. Historian David King had access to trial materials and the complete police dossier. He also did very thorough a When the Nazis and Gestapo call you a "dangerous madman", you have to be pretty bad! This book covers the case of a very unusual serial killer who was also a doctor and at one time a mayor. His name is Dr. Marcel Petiot and this book tells the true story of his brutal reign of terror over the citizens of Paris and other areas of France before and during the occupation by the Germans. Historian David King had access to trial materials and the complete police dossier. He also did very thorough and excellent historical detective work to bring us an amazing narrative of a killer even the Gestapo thought was creepy. The details are gruesome so beware but the book is so fascinating. One thing that surprised me is that many of the crimes (other than murder) he committed were glossed over. He was an oddball his whole life and not very nice. As a child, for example, he liked to pull wings off bugs and pull baby birds out of nests, poke out their eyes, and stick them in cages so to watch them starve to death. At one point, he was caught dangling his cat over a pot of boiling water and dipping its feet into it. When caught, he suffocated the kitty to death. Not a nice kid! He did odd crimes over the years like stealing electricity while working as mayor and shoplifting books. He did short stints in mental hospitals. Whenever he was to go on trial for any sort of crime, the people who could testify had a way of disappearing or turning up dead. Bothersome girlfriends too. One day, a wife near one of the buildings the doctor owned sent her husband over to find out what the stinking smoke was all about. He found an empty townhouse with smoke coming out of it and sent for the fire department and the police. The first officers on the scene inadvertently alerted the killer who came, pretending to be his own brother, and who then disappeared into the night. What the police found in the basement was nauseating. There were skulls, bones, and dismembered body parts, some skinned, in lime. There looked like over 100 dead people there. There were also a lot of secrets. What did his wife know? His brother and sister-in-law? Friends? Many people lied, including some police, and the way the bodies were left made it hard to identify them. It turns out the doctor also masqueraded as part of the French resistance and pretended to run a service where rich Jews and others could come to him and be helped to get away. The way it worked is that he had people solicited by others then did research on them. He told them to pack two suitcases with lots of jewels and money and sew these things into their clothes and coats as well. What was happening was that when the people showed up, he killed them and took what they had. The thing that horrified me the most is HOW he killed people. He had a special torture chamber built into the basement of the townhouse. He had a special peeping device built into the door. There was a button built into the door and when the person locked in pressed it hoping to get out , a needle would prick his/her skin and therefore the person injected himself/herself. Others were hanged up on hooks and gassed. The idea of the dismemberment is shocking. How could he stomach such a thing? The doctor then sent the suitcases to his brother out in the country where his son was staying and enrolled in a special school. The capture and trial of the doctor was a bizarre circus with the audience often cheering for things he said and jeering at the prosecution and even the judge. At one point, the prosecutor, hoping to establish a criminal history, asked the doctor if he had been convicted for stealing electricity years earlier. "Yes, I was convicted," said the doctor, "but that does not prove I was guilty." When the prosecutor suggested the doctor was saying the entire police dossier about him was lies, the doc said only 8/10 of it was! How did he make the deadly gas? He dropped easily obtained pellets of cyanide of potassium into a bucket of sulfuric acid and distilled water. The electric heater in the room kept it at the needed 75 degrees and begin vaporization when the mixture became volatile. He then used his peeping device to watch his victims gasping for air when the lethal gas attacked their cells, preventing them from processing oxygen. They foamed at the mouth, writhed in agony, had convulsions, had their hearts stop and restart repeatedly. It was a slow and painful death which incidentally, as an animal rescuer, I can tell you is still used in many states in the USA to murder innocent and defenseless homeless dogs and cats in the "shelters". The book's photos show the scenes of the crimes but not any of the bodies, etc.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ronald Roseborough

    This book presents a very detailed look at a part of history that took a back seat to the World War raging through out the 1940's. With all the death and destruction occurring in France attributable to the war, it is almost unimaginable that a serial killer ran amok in Paris at this time already so filled with sorrow and misery. French citizens were under constant scrutiny during the occupation from many sources including German military, German Gestapo, spies, French Gestapo, French Resistance, This book presents a very detailed look at a part of history that took a back seat to the World War raging through out the 1940's. With all the death and destruction occurring in France attributable to the war, it is almost unimaginable that a serial killer ran amok in Paris at this time already so filled with sorrow and misery. French citizens were under constant scrutiny during the occupation from many sources including German military, German Gestapo, spies, French Gestapo, French Resistance, and neighbor watching neighbor. It is hard to imagine that a man could murder an estimated 25 to 50 people and still carry on an every day life of a doctor. Dr. Marcel Petiot's preferred method involved convincing his victims, often his patients, that he could spirit them out of occupied France to freedom in Argentina. Many of his victims were Jews who were being pursued by the Nazi's. Dr. Petiot was eventually accused of murdering 27 people. There may have been many more, but the police could only identify 27 with any certainty as the bodies were dismembered and disposed of in a lime pit or burned. This appears to be a case of the criminal often outsmarting and being one step ahead of the police. He left little or no direct evidence that he had committed the murders. He appeared to be completely amoral, with no regret for having taken the lives of so many people. This book is a mesmerizing study of a man who puts himself above the law and his fellow citizens in order to gain personal wealth. Throughout the book there is a lingering question of whether Dr. Petiot will get away with these murders. The seeming ineptitude of the Paris police leaves open the question of whether the doctor will go free or go to the guillotin. No matter your opinion of our justice system, the scenes of the French judiciary system of the late 1940's, will leave you thankful for our current laws and procedures. While not as fast paced as an adventure novel, this book has the impact and immediacy of nonfiction. This book provided for review by the well read folks at Shelf Awareness and the Crown Publishing Group.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.