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Lost among the Dead and Dying Paperback – December 15, 2012
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" . . . what appears to be a tour of Europe escalates into a powerhouse whodunit on a grand scale . . . The story's historical backdrop is richly textured . . . The fine-tuned dialogue is a particular highlight. . . But the book's most engaging quality is Temple's refusal to quit . . . In scenes that bookend the novel, an 89-nine-year-old Temple travels to Paris, still wanting answers to questions that are more than a half century old. A solid historical detective story with a tenacious detective, unanticipated twists, and an ample supply of suspects." - Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Mears is a retired trial lawyer with a lifelong interest in history. He is currently working on a thematic history of the United States as well as a rock and roll mystery. A third Michael Temple mystery is planned for 2015.
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Top Customer Reviews
Most of the book is narrated from the viewpoint of an aging Temple as he looks back on events some 60 years earlier. Sent to Europe to find and bring back a reluctant wealthy heiress from Ohio, Temple is caught up in the French capital's glitzy and decadent arts scene. Famous literary characters such as James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway make cameo appearances, and Mears skilfully interweaves the plotline with real life historic events such as the first solo transatlantic flight by American aviator Charles Lindbergh, and the ongoing bloodletting as Stalin rises to power in the wake of the recent communist revolution in Russia.
But beneath the glamour, and the excitement of the chase as Temple's quarry repeatedly eludes him, Mears subtly shades the book with reminiscences from the detective's past, as he recalls the dark horror of the trench warfare that ended the lives of so many young men in the Great War of 1914-1918. Other dark horrors await Temple as he finds himself subjected to the vagaries of the harsh French legal code, when he is arrested and implicated in a string of murders. But his assignment has its compensations, too, in the form of an attractive and willing divorcee. For Temple, the diversion brings out Paris's romantic soul until the affair goes horribly wrong, leaving him bewildered, confused, and in constant danger...
In Temple, Mears has created an engaging and sympathetic character, who shuns violence but is perfectly capable of dishing it out ruthlessly when the criminal underbelly of French society threatens to slice him up. He also reveals a curious and enquiring mind that carefully examines and considers the world around him, as in true detective book fashion he slowly fits together the jigsaw. Also in true detective book fashion, however, things rarely go according to plan for Temple, and as an epidemic of murders flares across Paris he is caught up in the thick of it. ... No matter where Temple goes or what he does, there always seems to be an invisible hand working against him. Only at the end of the book does the cause of this become clear.
Mears paints a convincing picture of 1920's Paris as a rich, decadent society still recovering from the First World War, not yet suspecting that it is heading for the Second, and in which debauchery and self-indulgence are the norm. He backs this up with knowledgeable cultural references, covering everything from jazz to Stravinsky, taking in fine wine and fine art along the way. In one memorable scene he graphically evokes the exotic and erotic allure of 1920's jazz, complete with a flashing Charleston, wailing sax, and the champagne guzzling elite of a late night Parisian club. He seasons the mix skilfully with some astonishingly detailed research, which makes for a convincing picture of life at the time. However research alone doesn't make a novel compelling; what does that is a brilliant plot line, and Mears supplies this with an endless series of twists and teases that leaves the reader hanging deliciously, right up until the end.
About three quarters of the way through the book Mears accelerates deftly through 6 decades to bring us up to date with how Temple's life turned out after the events in Paris, and at this stage we see an aging Michael Temple determined to uncover the truth before he dies. What that truth is, and how Temple reacts to what he uncovers, I'll leave the reader to find out for his or herself. I will say, however, that I enjoyed Lost Among the Dead and Dying immensely; if you like detective novels served up with a generous dash of poignancy, this one is certainly worth a read.
In the story, Detective Michael Temple's search for a lost American heiress takes him to the most renowned sites on the Left Bank and into the circles of some of the stars of the time: Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Hemingway,Gertrude Stein, Alice Toklas, to list a few with whom the author seems amazingly familiar. His narratives of them alone, albeit dosed with more than a bit of literary liberty, make this book well worth the read. Also, the story wraps around the beginnings of the deep political darkness that foretells what was to come a few decades later in Stalinist Russia. All of it, fascinating.
Mears detective Temple is a charming, smart, sometimes-goofy, good-heart you can't help but cheer on. The story is compelling all the way to the addendums at the very end, when, as with all truly great story-telling, you find yourself wishing it wasn't over and think you may have to read it again.
I enjoy feeling as if I am actually walking the streets of Paris thinking some of the same thoughts as Michael Temple, feeling part of the story. The story develops in the palm of some of the worlds most notable personalities; authors, artists and 24 karet characters.
can't wait to download his other works.