Mark Pryor became a sensation in our store with his debut thriller, The Bookseller. It introduced us to Hugo Marston, the square jawed, bibliophile, head of security for the U.S. embassy. Since October, the book has sold over two hundred copies at MysteryPeople. With his follow up, The Crypt Thief, Pryor proves to be no fluke.
The Crypt Thief begins with one hell of an unsettling first chapter at the Pe’re La Chaise cemetery, with young couple visiting Jim Morrison’s grave. Unbeknownst to them, they have gotten in the way of a demented villain known as The Scarab. They don’t make it to Chapter Two.
Since one of the victims is the son of a US senator, Hugo is asked to look into the murders. His CIA buddy, Tom Green, comes along because they are suspicions of a terrorist hit. When Hugo looks at the evidence he thinks it may be something akin to a serial killer. The only thing he is sure of is that The Scarab will kill again.
With just two novels, Pryor proves to be a master craftsman as a storyteller. The plot moves at a brisk and involving pace, and he gives Hugo an adversary as twisted as he is straight. He slowly reveals The Scarab’s motivations, keeping us on the edge of what his dark plan is. His use of Paris and French history works so well as a backdrop that there is no other region the story could take place.
The main reason I’ve gotten to love this series is the supporting characters. In most books like this the heroes tend to be lone wolves, but Hugo is partly defined by his allies. The French detective, Inspector Garcia, proves to be smart, capable, and well as strong ally, as opposed to many of the obstructive local cops that show up in thrillers. Claudia, Hugo’s sexy journalist girlfriend is much more than a love interest. Her continental ways make her a perfect foil for Hugo and his Boy Scout ways.
It’s the relationship with Tom Green that puts a great buddy spin on the series with the CIA consultant who is a walking id, creates a great dynamic for their relationship. In The Crypt Thief, he explores that dynamic by creating a rift between the two and showing how destructive Green’s personality can be.
Mark Pryor has created a perfect second book for Hugo Marston. It delivers everything we loved about The Bookseller without being a retread. The Crypt Thief is proof that both Hugo and Pryor should be around for some time.