A new masterpiece of true crime writing . . .
Just shy of setting a new standard for the form.
-Laura Miller, Salon.com
Death in the City of Light is the gripping true story of a brutal serial killer who unleashed his own reign of terror in Nazi-occupied Paris.
Dr. Marcel Petiot was, by day, a handsome and charming physician with remarkable charisma. By night, he preyed upon the most vulnerable people of society with unspeakable deviousness. It was in the basement of his townhouse that the French police discovered a macabre spectacle of skulls, bones, and dismembered body parts. The doctor took flight and thus began an eight-month manhunt into a twilight world of Gestapo, gangsters, Resistance fighters, pimps, prostitutes, traitors, and other shadowy figures of the Parisian underworld. Dr. Petiot was eventually captured and charged with twenty-seven murders, but in the sensational trial that followed, his brilliance and wit threatened to win the day.
Drawing on many new sources, including the massive classified French police file, Death in the City of Light is an unforgettable evocation of Nazi-occupied Paris and a harrowing exploration of murder, betrayal, and evil of staggering proportions.
"One of history's most macabre bouts of serial killing . . . David King, the author of Vienna 1814, has more than just fresh eyes and imaginative speculation to power his revisiting of this long-forgotten true crime."
-The New York Times
"If you like true crime, put this book at the top of your reading list. Death in the City of Light is the gripping rapid-fire suspense story of one of the most terrifying serial killers ever, a man that few of us have ever heard of . . . An exceptional piece of crime reporting backed by a gut-wrenching narrative that is masterful, haunting, and an incredible literary achievement."
-King Features Syndicate
"As compelling as a thriller and hauntingly grim."
-Sunday Times (London)
"You won't read many better true crime books."
-London Evening Standard
"A story of two different types of evil, one against the backdrop of the other, this is a must for those who addictively consume the fact-fiction thrillers of Erik Larson and Ben McIntyre."
-Daily Mail (London)
"Engrossing and atmospheric . . . true crime noir at its best."
-Book Browse, Editor's Choice
"Erik Larson's tour de force of narrative nonfiction hasn't been matched – until now . . . While this work is painstaking in its research, it still has the immediacy and gasp power of a top notch thriller. True crime at its best."
"Gripping . . . Expertly written and completely absorbing."
-Kirkus Reviews (Starred)
"A gripping story . . . this fascinating, often painful account combines a police procedural with a vivid historical portrait of culture and law enforcement in Nazi-occupied France."
-Publishers Weekly (Starred)
"An absorbing new book . . . The most startling impression left by Death in the City of Light is of Paris itself, confronting the bestiality lurking behind its supremely civilized facade, and of the handful of Parisiennes who tried to serve justice in spite of it."
"A story of almost incomprehensible madness, a uniquely disturbing chapter in wartime history . . . richly reported and engagingly written."
-The Daily Beast
"King's admirably clear-headed account puts what's known in context, filling out the narrative with verbatim police-report dialogue to create a compelling portrait of Occupation-era France."
-The Onion's AV Club
-New York Post
"A mass murderer even the Gestapo found creepy . . . [King's] descriptions of the underworld are fascinating and I appreciated his attention to detail."
"Unprecedented detail . . . The detail with which King explores the story is aided by the fact that not only did he have access to trial materials, including a stenographic record no one thought existed, but also the complete police dossier, which had been classified since the investigation began."
-Seattle Post Intelligencer
"Fans of Erik Larson will revel in this account . . . David King had access to previously unavailable documents and his account of the manhunt and farcical trial, which makes the O.J Simpson case seem a model of juridical probity, is funny and macabre."
-The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
"Very sinister . . . through an ocean of impressive research, he has successfully added another horrid chapter to a period of time that can scarcely afford another horrid chapter."
-New York Daily News
"Gripping story of true crime . . . Reads like a thriller."
"At the very least, this story would make a fine true-crime drama. But in the hands of historian David King, a masterful story weaver, it is much more."
-Minneapolis Star Tribune
"An intriguing tale, highlighted by an intrepid French detective and courtroom drama."
-Christian Science Monitor
"Grisly and gruesome."
-The Chronicle Herald
"At its heart, King's book is a page-turning detective/ manhunt/courtroom drama . . . and King tells it with the skill of the best police and courthouse beat reporters, mixed with the sweeping eye of a social historian."
"Meticulously researched page-turner . . . This outstanding work of true-crime writing has its own place in the pantheon of the genre. You'll be up long into the night, unwilling to put this one down."
"Death in the City of Light is a thrilling masterwork of archival research, popular history and true crime."
"A well-placed narrative . . . sweeping cast of characters reflecting the moral, political, and personal tangles in Paris that the Nazi occupation fostered."
"If you like Erik Larson, especially the 2003 bestseller The Devil in the White City, you will appreciate King's latest tome."
"King’s book is a gripping narrative of Petiot’s crimes and the very strange murder case that followed but also an unusual look at Paris during the war."
-Illawarra Mercury, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
"Grisly . . . Compelling and extremely well-researched."
"David King gives us a story that is part history, part true crime, part thriller, and thoroughly enjoyable. . . . full of twists and turns worthy of classic detective stories."
-New York Journal of Books
"This hauntingly gruesome book resurrects the case, the city in which it took place, and the man the press dubbed the 'Butcher of Paris' and 'Doctor Satan.'"
-Sunday Times (London), Picks of the Paperbacks
"One of history's most gruesome serial killers."
-The Daily Mirror (London) in a feature on the book
"The page-turner recalls the tale of charming Dr. Marcel Petiot, who was finally caught chopping up body parts and committing gruesome crimes in the 1940s. Taking place in the wartime underground of Paris, it's a nonfiction account that reads like a perfect thriller."
-Newsweek, in a feature
"David King, acclaimed author of Finding Atlantis, draws extensively from many new sources, including the massive, classified police file on Dr. Petiot, to create a gripping, page-turning narrative of the riveting murder investigation and subsequent trial that rocked wartime France."
"Historian David King specialises in grand and gripping non-fiction thrillers with a twist of chaos."
-South China Morning Post
"A thriller, in every sense of the word . . . a book that will keep you occupied for days and awake for as many nights . . . A blockbuster of a book!"
-Pattaya Mail, Thailand
"An exemplary book."
-Il Venerdì di Repubblica, Italy
"David King, an American historian with a vigorous ability to inject emotion into history — in Death in the City of Light, he stunningly reconstructed the life of Dr. Marcel Petiot."
-El País, Babelia, Spain
"Among the best historical true crime titles published in recent years."
-The Morning Star, Vernon, British Columbia, Canada
"King has relied on newspaper reports, police files, interviews and his own careful research to produce a book about a man who should rightfully take his place alongside John Christie as one of history’s darkest villains. He was certainly one of the profitable and the fact that much of the wealth he looted has never been found adds another twist to this remarkable story."
-Canberra Times, Australia
"After a perfect analytical study, David King retraces the entire life of the French criminal from childhood to death, and he does so against the backdrop of a France and Europe first on the brink of the abyss and then in the hell of the bloodiest conflict of recent history."
"David King's anticipated crime history."
"There's a very short list of books about serial killers that manage to be both creepy and smart. David King's compelling story of the murderous Marcel Petiot, Death in the City of Light, belongs high on this list. It's a story of dark deeds and dark times wonderfully illuminated by its insights not only into the behavior of human beings at their worst but also at their best, a recognition of the steadfast courage that eventually brings evil to an end."
-Deborah Blum, Director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT and Author of The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York
"A Holocaust related, non fiction book that I found totally compelling, though also quite chilling . . . This is an important book to read if only as a terrifying demonstration of man’s inhumanity to man."
-Dr. Frank Felsenstein, Reed D. Voran Honors Distinguished Professor at Ball State University, who uses the book in his honors course, “Remembering the Holocaust.” Dr. Felsenstein’s great aunt, Rachel Wolff, was a victim of Petiot.
"David King is that rarest of rara avises, a masterful historian who also knows how to tell a ripping good story. I can't get enough of this marvelous, riveting book."
-Ed McClanahan, author of The Natural Man , Famous People I've Known , and I Just Hitched In from the Coast
"David King turns his unprecedented and unfettered access to declassified police files into a mesmerizing read. . . King lays it all out in a way that combines psychological character study with the crime story."
"A remarkable portrait of Paris under the Nazi occupation and just after the war . . . With the strengths of a novelist, King's book reads like a great thriller."
"King has some new evidence and presents as full a recounting as we are going to get. It is an exciting, bizarre, and macabre tale, told with just the right amount of detail and explanation . . . a significant contribution to the history of the Occupation."
"King follows Petiot’s insidious crimes and the ensuing homicide investigation with the immediacy of a top-notch thriller."
-ALA Book Club Central
"A riveting choice for book clubs interested in history and true crime."
-Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends, and Foundations, Book Club Choice
"I think fans of the television show Law and Order, especially those interested in factual, historical mysteries, would really love this book."
This extraordinary true story illuminates one of the grimmest crimes of the last century . . . a true story as absorbing, gripping, and shocking as fiction."
-The Crime Vault
"A fine piece of narrative nonfiction . . . Great on gripping historical and cultural details. Fiction-lovers, you, too, will love this book because it reads like the most fascinating of mystery novels."
-Mystery Lovers Bookshop, Oakmont, Pennsylvania
"Like Devil in the White City? Check this one out . . . Gripping, well-researched. . utterly fascinating read."
-Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz California
"Quite fascinating! Delve into the mind of a psychotic killer in the midst of Nazi-occupied Paris . . . Very absorbing in history and crime."
-Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, Washington
"If you enjoyed Devil in the White City, you will surely enjoy Death in the City of Light."
-Warwick’s Books, San Diego and La Jolla California
"King tells the story with grace and clarity . . . King's book is more than a thriller. It's a man-on-the-street tour of German-held Paris, a cinematic glimpse both of life under Hitler's dreaded Gestapo and the Resistance movement that helped bring an end to its reign of terror."
"We love books that make us feel like we're reading a suspenseful, slash-and-burn true crime paperback but that possess a depth, insight, and style that are memorable . . . Consider us fans of the books on this week's list that manage to pull it off."
-Kirkus' List of 10 Crazy (But Undeniably True) Stories, Huffington Post
"It's almost unthinkable . . . The story sounds like the plot to a sensational film, but it's all very very real."
-Bustle, List of 7 Books "Almost Too Crazy to be Nonfiction"
-Gruesome and horrifying . . . Probably my most highly recommended book on this list."
-Floating Lush, Non-Tawdry True Crime List
"Meticulously researched . . . [Petiot’s] intelligence and charm reminds one of that fictional counterpart, Hannibal Lecter. But knowing that his madman was real makes the story that much more gripping, and his placement in one of the darkest times in modern European history made this read a captivating one."
-Examiner.com Halloween Reads
"Well-researched and exciting book that focuses on a dark event within an already dark period of time."
"Despite its gruesome subject matter, Death [in the City of Light] is an entertaining, gripping trip back to the darkest days of French history . . . a strong contender for best true-crime title of the year."
"An absolutely gripping story . . . Anyone who has an interest in the history of Paris during World War II and enjoys a good thriller that captures your interest to its stunning conclusion will love this book."
-The Cairns Post, Australia
"This is a must-read for true crime loving book clubs, and you’re sure to have fascinating discussions about the killer’s true motives and how the Nazi occupation affected how the people of Paris viewed the case."
"Death in the City of Light by David King has to be one of the most frightening things I have ever read."
-Book Lounge, Canada
"Death in the City of Light is one of the most cogent examinations of pure evil that I have read."
-Northside, PW Bookseller of the Year
"One of the best historical serial killer stories you're likely to ever hear."
-Barnes & Noble Book Club True Blood
"A truly captivating look into World War II-era Paris and a chronicle of one of the most harrowing murder trials of the twentieth century."
-Read It Forward, List of the 40 Best True Crime Books of All Time