Invited by the Society for the Preservation of Old Nice to paint town-mayor Jules Ribot, plucky Persis Willum (Runaway; The Bishop in the Back Seat) abandons Gull Harbor for a sybaritic few weeks on the Cote d'Azur with the haves and several have-nots. The mayor, Persis hears, personally okayed her for the project after scrutinizing her picture. . . The first hitch: no mayor, anywhere. Depending on which gossip you believe, he's a) recovering from an assassin attempt, b) rejuvenating at a Swiss clinic, c) trysting with some lovely. However: the elaborately bandaged Ribot arranges secret sittings with Persis, confesses that someone did take a potshot at him, and tries to enlist Persis' help in finding out who. Was it Nicole de Plessis of the many villas and the forged Chagall? Anna, dessicated Polish princess with a dead, WW II dishonored son? Mario Guarnieri, pseudonymous ex-Grand Prix driver? The Mustards, whose devout love of the good life exceeds their income? Movie goddess Victoria Savage and her custodian daughter Julie? The veddy British Clough-Whites, who much admire a nonexistent painter? Anton Franck, retired capo? Robin Wilson, Nicole's ""handsome house pet?"" Guy Longhi, an enigma? Loathsome Franck is blown away on his yacht, gorgeous Robin is mutilated in an alley, there are hints of Resistance chicanery, Italian terrorism, Mafia vendettas, and the grand finale includes a plane switch at the Nice airport, a Deuxieme agent, a coincidence that makes you wince, a sort of justice and, more important, a truly fine dinner for the remaining Society Board members and Persis. Easily the best insight in the book: on the Riveria, burglary is the cottage industry. Droll, sly, and so atmospherically jet-set you practically get a suntan. Despite Watson's tendency to recap every few chapters, her best yet.