I’ve become a fan of Lucy Foley in the last couple of years; I loved her thrillers The Hunting Party and The Guest List. After reading those, I couldn’t wait for her next release: The Paris Apartment. Even better that it’s set in such a beautiful city! My personal April reading challenge has been to read books set in Paris, so Lucy Foley’s latest publication was the perfect inclusion.
Jess has led a tough life so far, and after some dodgy events back home in England, she needs an escape. She calls up her half-brother, Ben, looking to crash with him for a little while. It’s not great timing, but he’ll welcome her into his Parisian home. But when Jess arrives that night, Ben is nowhere to be found, and he’s not answering his phone. The other tenants in his building are all acting rather suspicious and hostile. They clearly don’t want Jess there, and they’re not being helpful in her search for Ben. Jess loves her brother and will stop at nothing to find him, even if no one – not even the police – are any help… and even if she’s putting herself in danger.
Lucy Foley has gained a bit of a reputation among thriller readers, and her last two books have been divisive: Some people don’t like her multiple-POV format, and even more are turned off by how unlikeable her characters tend to be. But not me! I love to read about flawed and even evil characters, and the different POV chapters add a certain dimension that totally works for me.
In The Paris Apartment, we see some of those trademark elements. Perhaps the characters are more troubled than unlikeable, but I still can’t see being friends with any of them. However, this novel is also a bit of a departure: Instead of dual timelines, the “past” chapters leading up to the “present” catastrophic event, The Paris Apartment opens with the inciting event. Ben goes missing within the first three pages, and from there, the chapters move forward in time as Jess races to find him. More than the previous two books, this one has a central character in Jess, and she’s channeling her inner Nancy Drew the whole time. It’s more mystery than thriller.
Even with a slightly different kind of momentum than in her previous books, The Paris Apartment still builds tension and intrigue through the numerous short chapters from its five or six main characters. Each one is a tiny piece of the puzzle, adding clues and suspicions. Truly, as the chapters go by, it seems that all of the characters would be equally plausible as the culprit. It certainly keeps you guessing! I did correctly foresee at least one or two things, but I never figured out the full picture until it was right in front of me. Well done, Lucy Foley.
One thing I quite liked about this novel is how it weaves in bigger themes. Not political, per se, but there is a social issues element that I found fascinating and important.
It was also fun to get to see a darker, seedier side of Paris. This is not a tourist dream version of Paris! City of lights? City of love? Not here!
Much as I enjoyed The Paris Apartment, I didn’t find it to be quite as engrossing and thrilling as the author’s previous two books. I liked it, but sometimes it was a tad repetitive. It is more of a mystery than a thriller, perhaps, and I generally respond more to a higher fear factor. I had hoped this would be my favorite Lucy Foley book yet (especially with its perfect setting), but alas, my expectations may have been too high.
The Paris Apartment is a multilayered mystery that exposes a darker side of the City of Lights. Across very different characters, the puzzle slowly comes into focus, making for an exciting climax. It features some of Lucy Foley’s trademark elements, but also moves them into new territory. This is a great addition to her catalog of thrillers, and I already look forward to what’s next.
This is only the third book of hers that I’ve read. I plan to catch up on her earlier books soon: The Book of Lost and Found, The Invitation, and Last Letter From Istanbul. Those are historical fiction and romances, and I’m curious to see how different they are from her thrillers.
Get the Book
You can buy The Paris Apartment here – it’s available as a hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audiobook.
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|The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley|
|Number of Pages||368|
|Format I Read||Hardcover|
|Original Publication Date||February 22, 2022|
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Guest List comes a new locked room mystery, set in a Paris apartment building in which every resident has something to hide…
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.
About the Author
Lucy Foley studied English literature at Durham University and University College London and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry. She is the author of The Book of Lost and Found, The Invitation, and The Hunting Party. She lives in London.