Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up – to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? – he’s not there.
The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question.
The socialite – The nice guy – The alcoholic – The girl on the verge – The concierge. Everyone’s a neighbor. Everyone’s a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling.
IT’S A BEAUTIFUL BUILDING, BUT THERE’S SOMETHING ROTTEN AT ITS HEART. NOW HE’S DISCOVERED IT HE CAN SMELL THE STENCH OF IT EVERYWHERE.
Wow. The Paris Apartment is definitely an early contendor for my favourite release of 2022.
It’s a divisive novel within the book community. A lot of people I talked to either adored it or thought it was très mauvais. For me, it had everything I want in a mystery thriller. Foley perfectly captures the atmosphere of this claustrophobic, melodramatic whodunnit set in an eerie Parisian apartment occupied by guilty liars with some very ugly secrets.
Sure, it’s a slow burn, but the cast of shady characters are intriguing enough to keep you hooked. Foley’s writing is so immersive that you can almost feel the suffocating heat of the Paris summer, with the sweltering heat and riots breaking out in the city. She does an amazing job of portraying the dirt and debauchery behind the façade of the quintessential ‘city of love’.
While I normally loathe multiple POV novels and was a bit concerned when I saw that The Paris Apartment jumped between the different perspectives of at least five characters, I thought it flowed really well. Foley managed to keep the central plot of Jess getting to the bottom of Ben’s disappearance sufficiently plodding along whilst allowing us insight into the mysterious inhabitants of the building who are trying to thwart Jess’ efforts. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the glimpse into the mindset of glamorous characters like Sophie as well as the conflicted narratives of Nick and Mimi.
In the last quarter of the novel, Foley finally hits the accelerator on the plot. As the secrets of each dysfunctional character are uncovered, one can barely look away. It’s almost like an Parisian An Inspector Calls as every single one of the building’s occupants plays some part in the mysterious disappearance of Jess’ journalist brother, Ben. It’s a vivid, alluring and tumultuous thriller that has me itching to read more by Lucy Foley.
In the meantime, I’ll be hopping on the next train to the Gare du Nord stat.