By Lucy Foley
My Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads Rating: 3.70
Publication Date: February 22nd, 2022
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Format Read: Audiobook
Goodreads Summary: From the New York Times bestselling author of The Guest List comes a new locked room mystery, set in a Paris apartment building in which every resident has something to hide…
Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up – to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? – he’s not there.
The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question.
The socialite – The nice guy – The alcoholic – The girl on the verge – The concierge
Everyone’s a neighbor. Everyone’s a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling.
Trigger Warnings: biphobic stereotypes, fear of homophobia, sex trafficking, murder, mental illness, domestic abuse, drugging
I deeply enjoyed The Paris Apartment. It was right up there with Lucy Foley’s last book in terms of a high quality psychological thriller that kept you guessing until the very end. If you read The Guest List, then you’ll be familiar with many of the strategies that Foley employed in this one. There were multiple first person points of view (and, if you listen to the audiobook, multiple narrators), a murder that you knew happened from the beginning but didn’t know how, and a cast that was mostly interconnected with a single young, female outsider.
From there, the plots diverged completely. It’s as if Foley kept all of the parts she was good at, and refined them into a completely new tale that was better than the first. I criticized the potential “coincidental ending” of The Guest List, but there were no such coincidences here. But despite that, it was nearly impossible to guess the ending. Once it was revealed, it all made sense– even more sense than the alternative ending that I thought I had properly guessed. For me, that’s the magic of good psychological thrillers and it was perfectly executed here.
The biggest issue that I have with this book is the subtle way it played into biphobic stereotypes, namely, that all bisexual people are more promiscuous than all monosexual (only liking one gender) people. All of the characters who were bisexual in this book slept around more than all of the characters who were not bisexual. The sexual freedom wasn’t portrayed as a bad thing, but I think that Foley and other writers need to be more careful about using bisexuality as a way to further code a character as “has a lot of sex, very free and sexually liberated”. Additionally, of the (very few) people who lived in the apartment and did not get first person perspective parts, all of them were bisexual, meaning that while bi people existed and their sexual promiscuity was remarked upon, they never got to tell their own stories.
Aside from this (which I truly believe is just an instance of authors not realizing the impact that stereotypes have when they tell their stories) I loved every minute of the book. Jess was an incredible protagonist, and Ben made for an incredibly complicated missing person. Too often, the murder mystery revolves around a caricature of a real person. I appreciated that in The Paris Apartment, many people felt that Ben was an enigma they couldn’t quite figure out and didn’t even really like, even while they were attempting to rescue him. It made the book feel more real and made me more invested in the hunt.
I would highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers with multiple protagonists. It felt real, was incredibly well crafted, and I loved the ending reveal.