The Paris Apartment is a fast-paced thriller about a shocking crime, but at its heart, it is also a novel about family. When Jess runs into trouble at the bar where she works, she turns to her brother for help, quickly packing up her few belongings and jumping on the Eurostar rail to Paris where he lives. Though they have not been close since their mother died during their childhood, Jess believes she can rely on him in her moment of need. Their complex relationship is central to the novel’s exploration of family, and of the duties and obligations that come with kinship. Ben has made little time for Jess in his adult life, but he feels unable to refuse when Jess requests to come and stay for a month. Jess is willing to exploit her brother’s feelings of guilt and is not above stealing money from him. Nevertheless, when Ben goes missing, she dedicates herself entirely to solving the mystery even at the cost of her own safety, speaking both to her strong feeling of familial loyalty and the painful history that binds them together. Though their lives diverged in adulthood, they share feelings of guilt over their mother’s death of a drug overdose. They are, for all their differences, profoundly connected by this trauma, and both continue to wear the St. Christopher medallions gifted to them by their mother as reminders of their shared past.  

Similar feelings of duty and shared pain tie the members of the Meunier family together. Blood, as many characters in the novel note, is thicker than water. The Meunier siblings have little in common and in fact, they don’t much like each other. However, when Jess begins to snoop around the building, as Nick did earlier, they put up a surprisingly united front, working together to keep their family’s dark secrets hidden. Sophie, a stepmother to Nick and Antoine, is particularly devoted to Mimi, whom she thinks of as her own daughter despite having adopted her. When Mimi murders Jacques, Sophie immediately launches an intricate plan to conceal the crime, enlisting (but also deceiving) Mimi’s brothers. When the family meets to plan their next move, they show that they are willing to put aside their differences and work together to ensure the safety of their family. Though the Concierge is not a member of the family, she nevertheless dedicates herself to them in order to care for Mimi, who is secretly her granddaughter. In The Paris Apartment, there is strength in family.  

However, the novel also illustrates that sometimes adhering to familial duty can be destructive, harmful, and even unethical. The Meunier family patriarch, Jacques, is an abusive husband and father, tormenting his family and exerting a high degree of control over them. Antoine serves as his father’s right-hand man, descending into alcoholism as a result of Jacques’ high expectations and constant taunting. In order to please his homophobic father, Nick conceals his sexuality and abstains from serious relationships with others, leaving him alienated and alone. Despite his deep unhappiness, which pushes him to abuse drugs, he feels reliant on Jacques’ money and is unwilling to leave the family nest. The domineering Jacques bullies Mimi, insulting her clothing and blocking her from dating men, and even his wife, Sophie, is not spared from torment. Having previously been married to a woman far wealthier than himself, Jacques picks as his second wife a woman who he views as being far beneath him in order to maintain power over her. Hoping to escape her life as a sex worker, she accepts his deal, allowing herself to be molded into a new person to suit his expectations and working hard to live up to his exacting standards. For Jacques, being head of the family gives him an opportunity to manipulate, control, and abuse his wife and children. They suffer under his control but find themselves unable to escape the bonds, emotional and financial, that tie them together as a family.  

Insofar as the Meunier family members all bear some degree of culpability in the unethical business practices which fund their lavish lifestyles, the novel raises thorny ethical questions regarding the personal responsibility of individuals to examine and confront the sources of their inherited wealth. In The Paris Apartment, wealth is closely tied to exploitation, especially the exploitation of the most vulnerable members of a society such as impoverished women and illegal immigrants. Jess is shocked to discover, for example, that seemingly kind Nick knows that his family fortune has been built on the abuse of women but has done nothing to challenge his father’s business practices. Behind the shocking acts of violence and scandalous secrets depicted in the novel lie the all-too-common problems of economic inequality, misogyny, and the mistreatment of immigrants. The novel foregrounds these political issues, showing that the Paris experienced by those who can afford to live in glamorous buildings manned with staff and guarded by security cameras is very different from (and perhaps dependent upon) the Paris of immigrants and sex workers such as Irina and the other dancers of La Petite Mort.