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The Jim Morrison Memorial BBQ
Paris City of Night, fast-paced and set in Paris: "A wild ride through the dark side of Paris with a writer who knows the city's streets and their secrets"-Diane Johnson
Paris City of Night

The Jim Morrison Memorial BBQ


Whether or not you enjoy the music of The Doors, and whether or not you’re a fan of Jim Morrison, it’s always worth detouring to Pere-Lachaise cemetery in Paris to see the crowds that gather at his grave. Each July 3rd those crowds are huge. People arrive to celebrate, mourn or scorn the rock star. He died in a Paris bathtub on a hot July 3rd, 1971 and was buried here, in the east of Paris, in the 20th arrondissement, among France’s great and good. The circumstances leading to his death are still the subject of speculation. Was he murdered? If so, why? By whom? The CIA? Why would they bother?

            Morrison surfaces more than once in Paris City of Night, my new thriller. He’s one of the background voices in the head of Jay Anthony Grant, the novel’s antihero, the “son of a spook.” Jay finds himself locked into the cemetery after hours. Here’s how the Pere-Lachaise chase scene begins:

Groping, Jay searched for a tomb big enough to crawl into. He recognized the curving path that led to the grave of Jim Morrison, a hallowed spot scattered with keepsakes and trash left behind by rock ‘n roll pilgrims.

By a bizarre twist of fate James Douglas Morrison had been fished out of a  bathtub in Rue Beautrellis on July 3, 1971 and been buried here, in Pere-Lachaise, the repository of France’s great and good. Morrison had become the object of cults. People crawled around his tomb day and night wailing Jim, come back to us


            And here’s another snippet from the novel featuring Morrison:


In a section marked “1971” Jay found the photos he’d taken on July 4th at what he later thought of as the Jim Morrison Memorial Barbecue. The photos showed the farmhouse caretaker at his grill with tongs and a glass of wine, the clotted cream of his complexion darkened now by chemical discoloration. A yellowed International Herald Tribune newspaper clipping showed a series of photos taken in a Paris street. The newspaper’s headline was three inches high. Rock Idol Dies in Paris Bathtub. A group of clean-shaven men in summer suits stood behind the gendarmes. Though partly covered by the eternal beige raincoat, one suit was familiar. Someone a long time ago had circled William Grant with an orange crayon. Jay wondered what kind of expression his father wore as he peered into the bathtub and cursed Jim Morrison, the drugged-out subversive idol. Morrison’s greatest crime turned out to be his inconvenient date of death. July 3rd. How many all-American family barbecues had he ruined?


Wherever you are, I hope and trust that Jim Morrison’s death-day did not spoil your Fourth of July weekend!

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Sounds like a terrific read!

This sounds fascinating and I can't wait to get my hands on it. I am so much in awe of any author who can write in the voice--and from the mind--of someone who actually existed. It can't be easy and requires massive amounts of research, I know, but also spectacular nerve. So congratulations, and I will report back here once I have read it.

In the meantime, be glad that Michael Jackson isn't coming to Pere-Lachaise! (As far as we know, although the poor casket seems to have made so many stops by now in different places, where it will stop nobody knows.)

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Chilling Summer Thriller

Paris is affectionately nicknamed "The City of Lights." But where there's light, there's inevitably shadow. Like many expat writers, Downie knows his adopted turf better than many natives --witness the spot-on description of Jim Morrison's gravesite above -- and he deftly illuminates those hidden recesses, painting a vivid chiaroscuro portrait of the shady Parisian underbelly. After reading this twisting compulsive read, you'll never think of Paris in quite the same way. For a sunnier view, however, read Downie's ode in essay form (Paris Paris) or one of his marvelous cookbooks (which also include delectable details of local flavor as well as flavors).

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Paris Paris is Sensational Sensational

"Paris Paris" is, for me, the definitive book on Paris. No one should go--or go back--without having gone through its pages exhaustively. The photographs (by Alison Harris), and Downie's richly detailed text are beyond description here and just thinking about it makes me want to rush to the airport and get on a plane. Downie's fabulous cookbooks, also with the most delectable Alison Harris photographs, are not to be missed!