Recently I was doing some mundane task at work and decided to download an audio book to keep me company. I ran across Cara Black‘s Murder in the Marais and decided that sounded interesting. It was. (I’ll have to read more of the series.)
Murder in the Marais takes place in Paris in the early 1990’s but connects with Paris under German Occupation in 1943. The current Jewish victims were somehow tied up in some incidents at that time. Most of the Jews were being shipped to the concentration camps then, but some made it through. Fifty years later, the past returns to haunt them. The book is well written and I liked the native viewpoint of how the French survived the Occupation and handled things afterwords.
One of my goals this year is to finally catch up on a couple mystery series I’ve been reading through. One series is the Lydia Chin/Bill Smith series by S.J. Rozan. If you haven’t read these and like well-written detective mysteries, I highly suggest these. I’m up to the last one published, Shanghai Moon. (Although the next one is due out in a few weeks.) How does this relate?
Shanghai Moon is about the Jewish refugees who went to Shanghai in the late 1930’s. Shanghai was one of the few places that still had an open port to refugees without quota restrictions. I’ve had the basic American history studies about World War II. I never heard of the Jewish people escaping to the Far East. It seems Shanghai had a large population of refugees from Europe at that time even though it was under Japanese occupation. Sixty years later there are still children survivors from that time. There are still artifacts that appear to be reclaimed. Shanghai Moon starts with some uncovered jewelry that belonged to a Jewish woman in the city. While trying to return it to her heirs, the jewelry is stolen. Lydia Chin is brought in to see if the jewelry shows up in Chinatown and see if the Chinese administrator who stole them appears.
Lydia is able to find personal letters and diaries from some of the people involved in the 1930’s and 1940’s Asian portion of World War II. I (as the reader) was again given a glimpse of the warfare and welfare of the real lives (OK fictional lives) of every day people trying to survive and pass on a legacy for their children.
While I knew going into Murder in the Marais I would be harking back to the war, I didn’t know that going into Shanghai Moon. These two books complement each other in handling the subject – giving two very different perspectives of the happenings of the times.