I read Pip Drysdale’s The Sunday Girl when it was released in 2018 and her subsequent novel of suspense The Strangers We Know the following year. Both feature flawed but engaging narrators and relationships-gone-bad, with themes around trust and disappointment.
The Paris Affair initially had me comparing it to Netflix’s Emily in Paris, given there’s a slightly similar feel to the early pages with a confident and ambitious Harper heading off to Paris to work for an English-language French publication. When we meet her she’s keen to wow the world but struggling to find her feet professionally.
Here however, we’ve got the added bonus of a murder. So, Emily in Paris meets The Girl on the Train. Perhaps.
The Paris Affair
by Pip Drysdale
Published by Simon & Schuster Australia
Source: Simon & Schuster
Genres: Thriller / Suspense, Psychological Thriller
Meet Harper Brown …
Occupation: Arts journalist
Dream job: Hard-hitting news reporter
Loves: True crime podcasts, art galleries, coffee, whiskey
Does not love: fake people, toxic positivity, being told how to live her life by smug workmates who have no life (that’s you, Stan), her narcissistic ex
Favourite book: 1984
Favourite artist: Noah X. Sometimes.
Favourite painting: Klimt’s Schubert at the Piano
Special skills: breaking out of car boots, picking locks and escaping relationships.
Superpower: She can lose any guy in three minutes flat. Ask her how.
Secret: She’s hot on the trail of a murderer – and the scoop of a lifetime.
That’s if the killer doesn’t catch her first
Harper’s still smarting from being dumped unceremoniously after having supported her now-successful boyfriend through fledgling days as a musician.
She’s arrived in Paris to work at The Paris Observer and not yet trusted with stories of any particular gravitas. A previous exposure to art however means she’s sent to cover a new art show with an edgy up-and-coming artist, the annoyingly named Noah X.
It’s probably a little predictable that a romance blossoms between the said artist and Harper though she soon discovers he’s not entirely available. Or single.
Although I say I don’t enjoy straight romances (ie. romance without murder and mayhem) I actually enjoyed the way the relationship between Harper and Noah plays out and it probably would have sustained the book without the added element of suspense.
But in the background there’s the murder of a young woman – who bares a resemblance to Harper. It’s just a story appearing in the headlines until it hits closer to home and causes Harper to question everything and everyone she knows in Paris.
Again Drysdale offers readers a contemporary feel with use of social media (reminders of Emily in Paris and her use of Instagram) and the inclusion of dating apps (etc). I loved the pragmatism of Harper and really liked her as a narrator. She’s flawed, obviously and has to stop herself scoffing some scotch before heading into work in the morning; knows she uses sex as a coping mechanism; and has trust issues thanks to her ex, and / but she’s delightful.
Drysdale introduces a charming relationship between Harper and her best friend Camilla that felt very real and it’s a reminder how important close confidantes and trusted and supportive friends can be.
This is a great read and lovely way to start the year. It’s engaging and light enough to not have readers checking the locks before bed but also offering an underlying level of substance, including a deeper theme about social media and how we expect our lives to be and look and how that can differ from reality.
The Paris Affair by Pip Drysdale will be published in Australia by Simon & Schuster and available in early February.
I received an early copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.