The gripping, true story of a brutal serial killer who unleashed his own reign of terror in Nazi-Occupied Paris.
As decapitated heads and dismembered body parts surfaced in the Seine, Commissaire Georges-Victor Massu, head of the Brigade Criminelle, was tasked with tracking down the elusive murderer in a twilight world of Gestapo, gangsters, resistance fighters, pimps, prostitutes, spies, and other shadowy figures of the Parisian underworld. But while trying to solve the many mysteries of the case, Massu would unravel a plot of unspeakable deviousness.
The main suspect, Dr. Marcel Petiot, was a handsome, charming physician with remarkable charisma. He was the “People’s Doctor,” known for his many acts of kindness and generosity, not least in providing free medical care for the poor. Petiot, however, would soon be charged with twenty-seven murders, though authorities suspected the total was considerably higher, perhaps even as many as 150.
Petiot's trial quickly became a circus. Attempting to try all twenty-seven cases at once, the prosecution stumbled in its marathon cross-examinations, and Petiot, enjoying the spotlight, responded with astonishing ease. Soon, despite a team of prosecuting attorneys, dozens of witnesses, and over one ton of evidence, Petiot’s brilliance and wit threatened to win the day.
Drawing extensively on many new sources, including the massive, classified French police file on Dr. Petiot, Death in the City of Light is a brilliant evocation of Nazi-Occupied Paris and a harrowing exploration of murder, betrayal, and evil of staggering proportions.
In 1944, when Parisian police entered a mansion littered with dismembered, rotting bodies, they thought of the Gestapo, but it turned out to be a purely French affair. Historian King (Vienna 1914) has mined the resulting global media circus (not only in France; Time magazine covered it) and extensive official records to tell a gripping story. The villain was a textbook psychopath, Dr. Marcel Petiot: a charming but heartless liar. Despite spending 20 years in and out of police courts, he won elections to local offices in the provinces only to be dismissed for petty crimes. Moving to Paris, he sold narcotics to addicts under the guise of treatment. During the German occupation, he offered to smuggle people out of France, murdering them when they arrived for the journey carrying their valuables. He went to the guillotine proclaiming himself (despite overwhelming evidence) a resistance hero, who killed only Nazis and collaborators. This fascinating, often painful account combines a police procedural with a vivid historical portrait of culture and law enforcement in Nazi-occupied France. Illus.
Customer ReviewsSee All
True Crime at it’s Finest.
Comparable to Devil in a White City this book reads beautifully and is a page turner. It is rich with history and the macabre details of serial killing in occupied Paris. It does get a little bogged down during the latter trial phase but given the amount of information to cover the author does a good job in moving the narrative without losing the reader. This is a must read.
Great book!! Loved it!
Timing, Luck & a Sociopathic Killer
Never heard of this case. What makes it so interesting is the times--occupied Paris. The killer was able to hide among the events and have half-way plausible excuses. The court part of the book resembles some of the recent circus-like cases on TV. I guess nothing about serial killers is new, but this book is very well written.