The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure
Lucien is an unemployed architect in Nazi occupied Paris. He does his best to keep his head down and not get involved with anything that may single him out or make him put his neck out for his fellow man. Then he is asked to do a job. Create a space in an apartment where a Jewish man can hide and be undetectable to a Nazi search. Lucien wants to refuse but the contract to build a factory that comes with this commission is too good to pass up. Reluctantly Lucien becomes a working architect again building hiding places for people to avoid detection from the Nazis while designing factories to arm the Nazis to continue the war.
My “home” book club recently talked about this book and one of the members couldn’t continue reading because she didn’t like the main character. Yes, Lucien is not the most likeable of characters but he grows a heart, and very realistically I thought, throughout the book. Watching how an ordinary man who tried very hard to avoid thinking about the occupation and all the horrors it brought with it becomes entrenched in intrigue and truly making a huge difference in the lives of many people was compelling; the fear of him being caught at every turn really ramped up the adrenaline rush to keep the pages turning.
This book has a great ending. If it were a movie I would have clapped. Instead I settled on quiet cheering. I’m looking forward to reading his latest book House of Thieves.