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Marcel Petiot, France’s most famous serial killer
A spring night in Paris. The most beautiful city in the world is dark and silent. Uncertainty devils the air. As does normality: war time normality. The Nazis’ Swastika flutters from the Eiffel Tower. The Parisians are huddled indoors. Suddenly the night’s stillness is shattered by sirens and excited voices. For days foul smoke has been pouring from the chimney of an uninhabited house close to the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. Police and firefighters are racing to the house to break down the bolted door. They make a spine-chilling discovery. The remains of countless human beings are being incinerated in a furnace in the basement. In a pit in an outhouse quicklime consumes still more bodies. Neighbors say they hear banging, pleading, sobbing and cries for help come from inside the house deep at night. They say a shabbily-dressed man on a green bicycle pulling a cart behind him comes to the house, always at dawn, or dusk. The house belongs to Dr Marcel Petiot – a good-looking, charming, caring, family physician who lives elsewhere in the city with his wife and teenage son. Is he the shabbily-dressed man on the green bicycle? If so, what has he to say about the bodies? Die in Paris will give you new insights into the horrors of Occupied France.
Marilyn Z. Tomlins has crafted an enthralling and suspenseful page-turner about one of history's most fascinating and notorious serial killers. This grisly World War Two era thriller will have you teetering on a slippery edge from beginning to end.
Don Fulsom, veteran UPI and VOA White House correspondent, Washington, D.C. reporter, author of the bestseller Nixon’s Darkest Secrets: The Inside Story of America’s Most Troubled President, and a professor of government at American University in Washington.
With style, Marilyn Z. Tomlins’ Die in Paris, tells the incredible story of France’s most prolific murderer. Readers will discover a truly psychotic serial killer.
J. Patrick O’Connor, author of the bestsellers The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal and of Scapegoat: The Chino Hills Murder and the Framing of Kevin Cooper, and the creator and editor of www.crimemagazine.com
Proposal for a one-off dramatized television documentary based on the true-crime book ‘Die in Paris’ by Marilyn Z. Tomlins
Knowing the story of Marcel Petiot as I do, I am sure it lends itself to a filmed documentary treatment. I also evince the obvious: that there will be a multi-demographic appetite for a big screen movie. If probed with an ideal balance of scientific objectivity and dramatic flair, bestial human behaviour can be bleakly fascinating. This one is not only a tale of sheer horror, but it also carries a political message: what the consequences are when a nation does not resist aggression from another nation, in other words, when it capitulates to an enemy. It also offers an opportunity to debate capital punishment. Although I suffered no illusions as to Petiot’s crimes, I could not help to feel immense sympathy for him in the final moments of his life when he was led to the guillotine. I reminded me of Sean Penn in ‘Dead Man Walking’. Another major draw is Petiot’s physical attractiveness, and not only his, but that of his brother Maurice and of Georgette, his wife. Petiot looked like Johnny Depp and Georgette was typically Parisian – petite, mignonne (slender and cute) and chic. Audrey Tautou (she was in The Da Vinci Code) and Juliette Binoche come to mind. There is also the fact that this story did not take place in a backwater village or one of Paris’s poorer arrondissements. It happened in the capital’s wealthiest, most beautiful area – the Champs-Elysées/Étoile district with the Eiffel Tower visible at the end of Rue le Sueur where the murder house stood at Number 21. The life and crimes of similar characters – Crippen, Bundy, Jack the Ripper et al –have been examined at length in the TV documentary format and on the big screen, however, the life and crimes of the good ‘Doctor’ Marcel Petiot have not. Why? Mainly because the French still can’t come to terms with how they had capitulated to Hitler and his Nazis and had then collaborated with them, even rounding up people to be sent to the death camps. These days they blame their collaboration and the Occupation on ‘Vichy’, as if Vichy was some creature from outer space. The French therefore do not want to speak of Petiot. In fact, so difficult is it to research Petiot that the last books about him in English before my ‘Die in Paris’ were published in 1980 – 36 years ago.