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by Claude Izner

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-66215-8
Publisher: Minotaur

Murder strikes too close to home for French sleuth Victor Legris.

Snippets of datelined prologue from Paris and Scotland and London depict an explosion, a search for priceless antiquities and the murder of a noblewoman before the story settles down to focus on Parisian bookstore owner and sometime sleuth Legris and his ladylove Tasha, the painter he romantically pursued while solving his third case (The Montmartre Investigation, 2010, etc.). Victor's business partner Joseph is also engaged in an amour, though a more recent one, with the coquettish Iris. Then the homes of both men are burgled, and a weirdly devout declaration from the apparent perpetrator, whom the author calls "the emissary," hints at a pattern and a plan. All that has been stolen, it seems, are a pair of books and a goblet that Victor judges to have no intrinsic value. Famous last words, he decides after Lady Frances Stone, the woman who entrusted him with the goblet, is found brutally murdered. She is but the first victim who compels the curious Victor to investigate. On the personal front, there's trouble in paradise when Victor realizes that Tasha is hiding a big secret. Though at times the froth swamps the plot, the apparent loose ends of the opening chapters are neatly tied up in the end.

A sturdy marriage of frothy style and abundant period detail, from obligatory tidbits about Toulouse-Lautrec and the Moulin Rouge to surprising sidelights on little-known but interesting people and events, all bolstered by appended notes.