Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok takes place on the streets of Paris in 1887 but reflects even our modern-day obsession with the thrilling tales of true crime stories.
Nathalie Baudin’s job is macabre, to say the least. She writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal, so each day she must line up to get a look at the newest arrivals. And she wasn’t the only one. Up to 40,000 Parisians would do so regularly.
But one day, Nathalie’s routine takes a dark turn. She has a vision of a woman being murdered — but it’s from the killer’s point of view. Soon, it becomes obvious that they have a serial killer on their hands.
Now Nathalie’s life becomes a struggle between figuring out who the killer is and not becoming a victim herself.
Of the novel, Zdrok says,
SPECTACLE is a reimagining of a specific time and place — 1887 Paris — cast in the light of some intriguing what-ifs: What if there was a killer sending bodies down the Seine River every few days? What if a clever, smart 16-year-old girl could work as a reporter? What if pseudoscience experiments weren’t so “pseudo” after all?
And most importantly, what if the Paris Morgue, designed so people could identify corpses found in the public domain, became the murderer’s grisly art exhibit?
All of these what-ifs sent me down a path of historical research as I wrote, sometimes for an overall flavor of the era, sometimes for obscure details (where the devil lives, as we know), sometimes for etymology to see if a word or expression was in use at the time. It’s a challenge to recreate an era without seeing much in terms of photos. (Can you imagine the Paris Morgue on Instagram?)
Setting is such an essential part of SPECTACLE. In addition to the morgue, the Catacombs, Notre-Dame, and Père Lachaise all factor into the novel, as do several cultural realities of the time, including an insane asylum, opium, and hypnotism. The characters are both products of their era yet supremely relatable to the present; like The Twilight Zone episode says, “People Are Alike All Over.” This goes for the crowd at the morgue, too.
SPECTACLE has plenty of twists and turns, and while I’m not at all pugilistic, I hope the reader feels a sucker punch to the gut at least a few times. I mean that in the nicest possible way.
If Spectacle sounds like your cup of tea, our exclusive cover reveal will undoubtedly be even more intriguing. Check out the haunting cover for Jodie Lynn Zdrok’s novel below:
Of the cover, Zdrok also writes,
I love this gorgeous cover so much that keeping it a secret was a challenge. I wanted to walk up to strangers and show them! (And I did, once.) The color scheme is striking; the strength of Nathalie, the protagonist, stands in counterpoint to the menace of the killer; and the Notre-Dame imagery (the Paris Morgue was right behind it) provides context for the late-19th century Parisian mood.
To me, it evokes both beauty and mystery with an undercurrent of dread. That’s the emotional ride I hope readers experience with SPECTACLE, and this dramatic, compelling cover represents that in stunning fashion.