Moments after his late arrival for the premiere of Eurydice, theatrical critic Virgile de la Pagerie (``Delap'' to his enemies, who are legion) collapses and dies of cyanide poisoning. Which of his foes preempted his final review, and how did they manage to poison him when he was surrounded by hundreds of people—including his companion for the evening, Chef-Inspecteur Alex Grismolet's former ward, Philippa Watten? The ensuing investigation is notable for its leisurely pace, its unblushing Francophilia, and its shoal of red herrings—including the international terrorists who phone to claim responsibility for executing ``Virgile Philadelphie, the mulatto mongrel of Martinique''; the wartime collaborator who signed the deportation order sending the father of Delap's stepfather to his death; the accomplished actress who can't be a suspect in her ex-fiancÇ's murder only because she died first; the Blessed Virgin's apparition to a little girl; and enough romantic triangles for a sequel to Euclid. Fans of Grismolet and his entourage (A Death in Paris, 1992) will be happy to know that his partner, Inspecteur Alphonsas Varnas, finds true love, and that Philippa's debut with London's Royal Ballet is a smashing success. Delap's murder gets solved, too.
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