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52 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amidst the Horror of WWII a Grisly Serial
An unpleasant smell accompanying a thick black smoke is permeating the apartments and houses in a section of Paris during the German occupation in March of 1944. Police are called to investigate and discover the source is emanating from an unoccupied house. Entering the house police find bits and pieces of bodies strewn about a basement floor where a coal stove has a...
Published on September 22, 2011 by Michael P. Lefand

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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite the "colorful, character-rich" narrative it's made out to be
*2.5 stars*

During the years of Nazi occupation of Paris, Marcel Petiot, a seemingly respectable doctor, murdered an unknown number of people. Was he a German sympathizer, using his own form of a "final solution" on innocent Jews who merely wanted to escape the city? Was he a member of the French resistance, acting as judge and executioner towards those he...
Published on August 18, 2011 by Laura Probst


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4.0 out of 5 stars murder under the cover of murder, December 20, 2012
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I just started reading this,and it's kind of a slow start,but it's a true account of the evil doings of a serial killer in murderous nazi -occupied Paris. I know it will hold my interest because of the early forensic investigation practices,and how far it's progressed since then. I personally don't know anyone who likes reading this sort of thing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars good read, December 12, 2012
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good stuff if you like WWII history or just history in general. Bonus if you like serial killer stuff too
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5.0 out of 5 stars Killing in the name of...., December 10, 2012
This review is from: Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris (Hardcover)
A remarkably detailed account of one of the most bizarre serial killers in the history of modern France. King's account of the story grabs the readers interest from the start and never lets it go. A must read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Surprising tale of murder in Nazi occupied Paris, November 25, 2012
It is a very good book, but it does leave you with many questions unanswered. What was the motive for all this carnage? How many people really fell victim to Dr. Marcel Petiot? Why were the bodies disposed of in so many different ways? And what actually happened before they met their deaths. At the end the author does try to give us some idea based on a recently found personal experience of someone who apparently escaped, but even here we are left with questions. How did he escape and not all the others?

Did Petiot have connections to the Gestapo? We never really know.

While the story itself is fascinating as any horror story would be, the author does get bogged down into the tiniest details regarding resistance movements and Petiot's experience with them. Sometimes this can get tedious to read, but despite this the book reads quickly and I was able to finish it in about 24 hours. You don't really want to put it down until you know the murderer is caught, tried, and executed.

Four stars. Worth a read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Frightening!!, November 20, 2012
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If you want something that will keep you up at night and give you cold chills, this book is the ticket. It has everything; history, mystery, a truly unrepentant and terrifying serial killer to rival anything we have today, and more intrigue and double dealing than you can shake a swastika at. The writer seems to have done all his research, and has put together an absolutely riveting narrative of what Paris and its people were like during the Nazi occupation and has given us a glimpse into the court proceedings of that era. I believe this killer was the last one to die on the guillotine and he richly deserved it!!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Kleptomaniac, Mentally Ill, or Just A Serial Killer, November 2, 2012
This review is from: Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris (Hardcover)
Honestly, it doesn't get much stranger than the real life case of Dr. Maurice Petiot. This is a true crime book which reads like a novel or plays out like a Warner Bros. movie ca. 1945.
Petiot was a soldier during WW I who was diagnosed as mentally ill. He exhibited signs of madness and was also an adept kleptomaniac. After a stint in a mental hospital, he was returned to action only to deliberately injure himself to be released from service. After the war, he participated in an excelerated medical program and went into practice as a scam artist and crook. Between bilking patients and performing illegal abortions, he also performed any number of scams. By the time WWII arrived his repertoire of criminal activity expanded to pass himself off as a member of the Resistance and that's when things got interesting. People started disappearing. Eventually a search of his Paris home revealed a house of horror with bones scattered in the basement and his furnace. However, the ever resourceful Petiot managed to evade the police while eventually living in plain sight and extremely close proximity of the police.
Death In The City Of Life is an interesting look at the activities of a con man and perverted serial killer as well as complicated story that uses a critical period in history as a backdrop.
I liked this book because it was all true but read like a novel.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Detailed but dense account of a serial killer in Paris, October 28, 2012
"Death in the City of Light" is a very detailed and somewhat dense account of a serial killer in Nazi-occupied Paris in the 1940's. It follows a French detective after the police discover a home with a torture chamber and lime-filled pit, where the killer disposed of over a dozen bodies. Who were the victims? How did he kill them? Was he involved with the French resistance?

The author exhaustively follows the stories of the victims, the killer, and the killer's (a physician) accomplices. The book is detailed, interesting, and, at times, chilling. I give it a solid recommendation for those readers interested in true crime and World War II history. I found the book somewhat dense, though.

Another true crime thriller that I really enjoyed (although completely different subject matter) is The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer. It's about a prominent killer-for-hire, and a fascinating read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris, October 6, 2012
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I would have liked to know that this is written more as a documentary than as a story. It is quite interesting although it requires a strong stomach to get through all the information from the many sources. It can be a slow read as there are so many details presented from different directions. This requires some time to absorb each new evidence presentation and each search of the clues and inspection of the facts and people involved.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, September 11, 2012
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This review is from: Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris (Hardcover)
DEATH IN THE CITY OF LIGHT is masterfully written, an account not only of unbelievable atrocity, but of in individual's atrocity set in the midst of political tragedy. If you have never read about the tragedy and fragility of Paris during the Nazi occupation, you will learn about it here. And because the story is focused on a single twisted killer, the story of Paris is mercifully void of the names, dates and triumphs of the political characters. It's about what happened in the streets. Excellent. Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Greusome but Fascinating, September 9, 2012
This review is from: Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris (Hardcover)
In a city gripped with the terror of Nazi occupation, French police discover a house of horrors in the midst of a trendy Paris neighborhood. Piles of limbs and torsos, burning flesh, and a decomposing pit of corpses fill the residence of a prominent doctor. Investigators have an enormous amount of work on their hands, not only in the manhunt for the alleged murderer, Dr. Marcel Petiot, but in discovering motive and identifying the enormous amount of remains. The tedium of sifting through the fragments of body parts that have literally been stripped of all identifying features is all but impossible. To determine Dr. Petiot's victims, they must first identify who has gone missing during his alleged murder spree, no easy task in a city where people disappear regularly. Deportment of Jews and abduction by the Gestapo are common, but slowly, detectives determine who had ties with the suspect.

This aspect of the investigation is where the story gets tedious. There are so many individuals who have connections to the Doctor, and the details of all these associates are a bit tiresome. French gangsters, innocent Jews looking to escape the country, and colleagues who could have uncovered Dr. Petiot's questionable practices are on the list. There's also the network of the Resistance, communists, Germans and neighbors to keep track of, and all the French names were difficult to remember.

It is once the trial gets underway that the Doctor displays the full depravity of his madness. He does not deny that he killed people, nor does he fully confess to how or why. He claims he only killed collaborators and criminals, and that he was an integral part of the Resistance. He is defiant and remorseless, infuriating prosecutors. Though the author is never able to determine with certainty what investigators were unable to prove and the secrets that Petiot took with him to the grave, I think he did a good job using the evidence and testimony available to speculate the truth. It's a bizarre and gruesome story, but fascinating in the atmosphere of a city occupied by a tyrant and victimized by a serial killer.
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Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris
Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris by David King (Hardcover - September 20, 2011)
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