Paris in the Dark by Robert Olen Butler

Paris in the Dark.jpg

My enormous thanks to lovely Katherine Sunderland at No Exit Press for a surprise copy of Paris in the Dark by Robert Olen Butler in return for an honest review.

Paris in the Dark will be published on 25th October 2018 and is available for pre-order through the links here.

Paris in the Dark

Paris in the Dark.jpg

Autumn 1915. The First World War is raging across Europe. Woodrow Wilson has kept Americans out of the trenches, although that hasn’t stopped young men and women from crossing the Atlantic to volunteer at the front.

Christopher Marlowe ‘Kit’ Cobb, a Chicago reporter and undercover agent for the US government is in Paris when he meets an enigmatic nurse called Louise. Officially in the city for a story about American ambulance drivers, Cobb is grateful for the opportunity to get to know her but soon his intelligence handler, James Polk Trask, extends his mission.

Parisians are meeting ‘death by dynamite’ in a new campaign of bombings, and the German-speaking Kit seems just the man to discover who is behind this – possibly a German operative who has infiltrated with the waves of refugees?

And so begins a pursuit that will test Kit Cobb, in all his roles, to the very limits of his principles, wits and talents for survival.

My Review of Paris in the Dark

1915 Paris is under threat and not just from the Germans.

I thoroughly enjoyed Paris in the Dark, not least because it’s not my usual genre and it was so refreshing to read a spy thriller. More importantly, however, is the overall quality of Robert Olen Butler’s writing. I found that not only did I enjoy the story but I so admired the craftsmanship. Robert Olen Butler knows exactly how much information to reveal to the reader so that they are engaged and intrigued. He also has the perfect balance of sentence structure, realising that less is more at just the right moment. I loved this style.

I thought the title Paris in the Dark was inspired because much of the action takes place at night but Paris is both literally and metaphorically in the dark as Kit Cobb tries to work out who is behind a series of bombings. Careful attention to detail gives an almost cinematic picture of Paris in 1915 so that I could easily imagine the scenes and appreciated the authenticity of the writing.

There’s a fast paced and exciting plot that is enhanced and complemented by the developing relationships between Kit and those around him. For me, the greatest enjoyment came from the insight into Kit as a man as there’s a deep psychological aspect to the book too. Kit, and therefore, the reader, explores the concept of identity throughout. Kit is a reporter, a friend, a lover, a spy, an assassin and above all else a man not entirely at ease with any of his roles so that the reader is fascinated by his actions and responses. Reading Paris in the Dark has made me hungry to know more about Kit Cobb.

Paris in the Dark is a corker of a read, being atmospheric and exciting. It’s my first introduction to Robert Olen Butler’s writing but the sheer quality means I shall be reading more very soon. I thought this was such an effective and interesting read.

About Robert Olen Butler

robert olen butler

Robert Olen Butler is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, and seventeen other novels including Hell,A Small HotelPerfume River, and the Christopher Marlowe Cobb series. He is also the author of six short story collections and a book on the creative process, From Where You Dream.

He has twice won a National Magazine Award in Fiction and received the 2013 F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature. He teaches creative writing at Florida State University. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction, he also won the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has twice won a National Magazine Award in Fiction and has received two Pushcart Prizes. In 2013 he won the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature. He is the author of three historical novels, The Hot Country, The Star of Istanbul andThe Empire of Night, all part of the Christopher Marlowe Cobb series published by No Exit Press.

Reminiscent of Cobb, Robert Olen Butler trained as an actor, worked as a reporter, went to war and engaged in intelligence collection. He now teaches creative writing at Florida State University.

For more information you can follow Robert Olen Butler on Twitter @RobtOlenButler and visit his website.

9 thoughts on “Paris in the Dark by Robert Olen Butler

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