Exiles: A Mystery in Paris (The Daniel Levin Mysteries Book 1) by Lawrence J. Epstein
Reviewed by Timea Barabas
Although the title of the novel by Lawrence J. Epstein reads Exiles: A Mystery in Paris, in fact there are several types of mysteries tackled on various levels. The readers are invited to explore these and see beyond the shadow of the murder case which reigns over the plot.
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It all unravels in Paris, 1925 – a period marked by recovery, vitality and hope. It is the hope of a fresh start that pushes Daniel Levin to leave his home and venture into a foreign land to try and accomplish his dream of becoming a writer. While he quickly befriends the right people and receives a lot of help from them, he still has to face a lot of obstacles alone. Some of these are regarding his literary carrier, some even threaten his life.
Soon after his arrival, a murder takes place in his vicinity. The audacity of the crime and the fame of the victim guarantee the headlines. While he begins as merely a keen observer, his status will shift as he will find himself ever more involved in the case. Meanwhile, he is also faced with the mystery of love and its many masks. Levin thus has the opportunity to discover a city like Paris through a woman. As a bonus, the pages of the book are spiced with the appearances of famous characters of the likes of Sylvia Beach, Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein, all of who are strongly portrayed and bring an extra layer of complexity to the novel.
On a deeper level, this story is about an inner exile and how we tend to hide from our true selves and lose our way. Our actions are guided by past events and sometimes we even become prisoners of our past. Levine found himself in such a predicament; he reached a crossroads in his life, but was unable to actually move in any direction. Instead of making a deal with the devil, he did so with a friendlier creature and a new, previously invisible path spread before his feet.
Exiles: A Mystery in Paris through the predominance of dialogue and action makes it pleasant to read and easily encases the reader in its pages. While this book is unlikely to impress with its language, it will be its simplicity that will subtly lure you deeper in the plot. It is worth mentioning that this is only the first book in a series centered on the main character and it is followed by Bloodlines: A Mystery About Murdering the Weak and Abandoned: A Mystery in Nazi Germany.