I picked up The Paris Librarian on impulse one day at the library. It was part of a display of books with a library/librarian theme, and it just caught my eye (kudos to the librarian who put the display together!). I liked the cover, I was in the mood for a good mystery, and I liked that a librarian was somehow worked into the plot.
The novel stars Hugo Marston, a former FBI agent turned chief security officer of the US Embassy in Paris. When his friend Paul Rogers, director of the American Library in Paris, it appears to be a heart attack. However, Marston's finely tuned instinct nags at him, and when Marston's girlfriend dies not long later, Marston is convinced that both were murdered.
The mystery involves an elderly famous actress suspected of spying on Nazis in World War II, a locked room, a senile old woman, rare poison, a secret passage, nosy journalists, and lots of visits to Paris cafes for coffee and delicious food (okay, that last thing isn't actually part of the plot, but it goes a long way toward setting the mood and making me hungry). The plot and mystery were interesting and well-paced, the characters felt real, and the setting -- as I mentioned -- was a well-written and vivid part of the story. There were a few spots of exposition -- mostly inner monologue of the main character's -- that felt a little clunky, but it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book overall. Plus, I didn't know it when I picked up the book, but it's the sixth in a series featuring Hugo Marston. (thus a bit of exposition expected) There are a few things that characters reference that I'm guessing took place in earlier books, but I certainly felt that the book worked well as a stand-alone.
Bottom line: a good read if you're in the mood for a classic, locked-door type detective mystery novel, or a visit to Paris (and don't mind a little murder mystery on the side).