Mark Pryor gives us a fresh take on the action-thriller with his debut, The Bookseller. He delivers stalwart hero Hugo Marston, the US embassy’s head of security in Paris, and gives him a good number of guns and bad guys to face. He also gives Hugo a great sidekick, a number of characters in a moral grey area, and tosses him into a situation where old crimes meet new in The City Of Lights.
Besides being a man of action, Hugo is also a bibliophile; something that leads him into his first adventure. On visiting Max, the elderly operator of a bookstall, he witnesses the man being forced into a car. Out of his jurisdiction, Hugo’s search for Max takes him through every social strata in Paris, encountering drug smugglers, and a sexy journalist. The plot becomes more layered when Hugo discovers Max was a Nazi hunter who specializes in collaborators.
Pryor does a wonderful job of giving us the thriller standards with a hero to root for and a twisting, page turning plot with a breezy writing style while also bringing new life into the genre. Much of this comes from Tom Green, Hugo’s semi-retired CIA friend. Tom serves as a reactionary counterpoint to Hugo. With the banter and loyalty between the two, Pryor introduces a fun buddy element to a genre filled with lone wolves. The use of Paris is also important. It comes off more as a character than a backdrop for set pieces. Pryor views it as a place still healing from its occupation wounds. If that isn’t enough, he also gives us an interesting and unique glimpse of the book world with it’s different stores, sellers, and collectors.
The Bookseller is one of those ideal weekend reads. It’s tight and flows with a wonderful steady pace and contains some good guys you like to spend time with. It also gives us a sense of place and history as well as morality – black, white, and gray – that we carry with us after the last page. I can’t wait to see what else Mark Pryor has in store with Hugo Marston.
MysteryPeople welcomes Mark Pryor to BookPeople to speak about & sign The Bookseller on Friday, October 12 at 7pm.