Belfoure, Charles. The Paris Architect
Booklist Reviews 2013 July #1
Belfoure's suspenseful and commercially oriented debut, set in 1942 Paris, follows a self-centered, ambitious man as he develops a moral conscience. When a rich businessman persuades architect Lucien Bernard to adapt an apartment to create a hiding place for a wealthy Jew, he takes it as a challenge. Despite the dangers, Lucien likes fooling the occupying Germans, the money is excellent, and it comes with a lucrative opportunity to design a new factory for the Reich. Tensions rise as he gets drawn deeply into the plans of both the occupiers and the Resistance. After one careless mistake results in tragedy, however, he begins reevaluating his life. The plot doesn't skimp on evoking the constant fear the Parisians face or the brutality the Jews encounter. Food is scarce, black market goods are costly, and neighbors rat one another out to save their own necks. With his unadorned, zippy style and broad-brush characters, Belfoure writes like an up-and-coming Ken Follett but with more sex and violence and stronger language. There's plenty of detail to interest architecture buffs, too. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2013 June #2
In 1942 Paris, architect Lucien Bernard hates the occupying Germans but feels no love for the Jews, who have been asked to surrender to authorities. Times are tough, though, and Lucien takes on a dangerous job designing hiding spots for Jews. While he's initially motivated by the challenge and the satisfaction of outsmarting the Germans, the job becomes unexpectedly personal when tragedy strikes an occupant in one of his designs. Lucien suddenly sees the plight of the Jews through new eyes, and as he begins believing in the importance of the mission, he realizes he's not only saving them, he's saving himself. VERDICT Architect and debut author Belfoure's portrayal of Vichy France is both disturbing and captivating, and his beautiful tale demonstrates that while human beings are capable of great atrocities, they have a capacity for tremendous acts of courage as well. Readers will root for Lucien as he risks his life and discovers strength and character he never knew he had. Some sensitive readers may take offense to characters' language and attitudes toward Jews.—Vicki Briner, City Coll. Lib., Fort Lauderdale, FL[Page 78]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2013 June #2
How far would you go to help a stranger? What would you risk? Would you trade your life for another's in the name of what is right? Belfoure explores these questions and others in this debut novel set in Paris during the Nazi occupation. Lucien Bernard—who, like the book's author, is an architect—is offered a large sum of money to outsmart the Gestapo by devising unique hiding places for Jews, though he knows that anyone caught helping them will be tortured and killed by the Germans. Danger is everywhere: Lucien's mistress, Adele, a successful fashion designer, has an affair with a Gestapo colonel. Lucien's new assistant will betray him in a heartbeat. Offered a juicy German factory commission that involves working with a Nazi officer who admires architecture and art, Lucien's web weaves more complexly. And when he falls in love with Adele's assistant, rescues a child, and contacts some of the individuals he's saved, the stakes grow higher and Lucien's thoughts turn from money to vengeance. Seamlessly integrated architectural details add to the excitement. Belfoure's characters are well-rounded and intricate. Heart, reluctant heroism, and art blend together in this spine-chilling page-turner. Agent: Susan Ginsburg, Writers House. (Oct.)[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC