October 4, 2009

The Coral Thief by Rebecca Stott

If Rebecca Stott’s goal was to create a vivid feel of Paris after the Napoleonic wars, this novel is a complete success. As for the plot and characters she builds this vibrant setting around, they definitely take a backseat in her vivid re-creation. Her story starts as an intriguing mystery novel, young scientist Daniel Connor heads to Paris to study with the greats in a nexus of brilliant and important thought of the day, Paris. On the train into town, he is near hypnotized by a beautiful stranger, and ends up having some priceless fossils stolen from him. When he tries to recover his items, he meets the Police Chief, a corrupt and former master thief who has his own agenda concerning this robbery. The novel quickly morphs into a caper story with who is using whom elements. This narrative is interspersed with an imagined tale of Napoleon’s journey to exile which Stott doesn’t even bother to connect to the story in any real way beyond a few casual comments.

Its almost as if you are watching a an Oceans Elevens/Departed type movie and your spouse keeps changing the channel to an documentary on Napoleon’s exile and Post Revolutionary Paris. You don’t get bored with one program or the other, but the mixture feels somewhat bumpy at best. Daniel Connor also makes one inexpiable decision after another which doesn’t help. The writing however is great, and Stott consistently uses several phrases that light up. The Police Chief (who is based on fact in a stranger then fiction turn), and some of the scenes that describe Revolutionary violence are the story’s fabulous and moving highlights.

1 comment:

  1. Sara, i enjoyed your review. I've been thinking about this one but not sure if I'll read it.


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