Fresh Meat: P.J. Parrish’s The Killing Song

Cover of P.J. Parrish The Killing Song
P.J. Parrish’s The Killing Song
A while back, Jason Goodwin wrote a post here on Criminal Element about crime fiction as travel writing. He concentrated on series authors, who have the space to go into detail on various cities, but I also appreciate a book that takes me multiple places in a single read. This is the case with The Killing Song, wherein author P.J. Parrish takes readers from Florida to Paris, to London, to rural Scotland….and manages to make to us feel as if we’re right there every time.

He walked her up the staircase and down another, through one echoing tile tunnel and down another, weaving in and out of the peddlers and kiosks of the small underground village that was Châtelet. Finally, they arrived on a less crowded platform. No shops or peddlers here. Just a handful of people preoccupied with getting home from work. And one saxophone player bleating in the corner.

He steered her to another metro map. “Here we are,” he said, pointing. “The green line.”

He could tell by her empty expression she could read none of the signs, not even the one that told her the train he was about to put her on was an RER train to the suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis.

No one went there unless they lived there or beyond, or were going to the football stadium. It was home to more than a million of Paris’s immigrants, honeycombed in housing projects. The neighborhoods were still scarred by the burned hulks of buildings from the riots several years ago.

See what I mean? It’s more than a description, it’s an immersion into the seamier side of the French subway system. And while Paris gets the most ink in this book, every other setting is equally enthralling. 

The other wonderful thing about the settings in this thriller are that they are absolutely necessary to the plot. You never feel as if you’re being manipulated—each piece of travel is organic and essential. If you enjoy a good travelogue with your thrills and chills, this is one you won’t want to miss!


Laura K. Curtis lives in Westchester, NY, with her husband and 3 dogs who’ve taught her how easily love can co-exist with the desire to kill.  She blogs at Women of Mystery and maintains an online store at TorchSongs GlassWorks.  She can also be found on Twitter and poking her nose into all sorts of trouble in various spots around the web.


  1. Lois Karlin

    This is delicious description of setting by a collaborative writing team. I recall the two of them saying that one of them inserts “[description here]” where needed, and then the other writes it . Clearly she does a fabulous job, and if such segments are as integral to the novel as you say, she’s truly a master craftsman.

Comments are closed.

The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.