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The Green Muse: An Edouard Mas Novel    by Jessie Pritchard Hunter order for
Green Muse
by Jessie Pritchard Hunter
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2015 (2015)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Paris in the 1890s. It is all the rage for the Morgue to show off the unknown dead who are found in the streets. People queue to see what they look like, taking their children and a lunch to have while waiting.

We follow the stories of three people. Edouard, a photographer who works for the police, is sensitive, bright and often discovers things they have overlooked. Charles belongs to a group of dandies who love to visit the Morgue. He is also in thrall to the Green Muse - absinthe. Its preparation is an elaborate ritual whose steps must be precisely followed. Then there is Augustine, a young woman living in a village who yearns to go to Paris to act. Her first innocent love leads to her being sent to Paris to 'recover from her hysteria' under the tutelage of the famed Dr. Charcot. At the same time Artists of Death murder at will, leaving the bodies in graceful positions so that when they are viewed in the Morgue, they will dazzle the crowds.

The lives of these three people move toward an ever-constricting convergence. The men are opposites - a kind humanity versus a growing wanton and cynical disregard of life. Augustine's innocence and intelligence are captivating to both, while the Artists of Death are repugnant yet somehow affecting at the same time. Fascinating to us is the life portrayed here - the Parisian underworld in all its filth and fascination as well as that of the wealthy with all its exuberant excess. Though it is written very straightforwardly, this story will haunt you.

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