The murder of a friend propels a Parisian bookseller once more out of his store and into the streets to investigate.
The summer of 1893 is hot and Parisian tempers short. As is their habit, Victor Legris and his assistant, Joseph Pignot, work busily in Legris' bookshop while discussing various items in the newspapers: today, an odd jewelry store robbery in which only some smoking supplies were taken. Could this theft be related to two more serious crimes that follow, the fatal stabbing of enamellist Léopold Grandjean and the death of bookbinder Pierre Andrésy in a raging fire at his shop? Both Victor and Joseph, who knew Andrésy well, are shaken by the killing. So, despite his promise to his fiancee, Tasha, to give up his amateur sleuthing, Victor feels compelled to investigate. In the uproar surrounding Andrésy's death (political motives are suspected) and Grandjean's unsolved murder (the police investigation is tracked almost daily in the press), little attention is paid to the discovery of the remains of Guy de la Brosse, founder of the city's natural history museum, in an abandoned cellar. When Joseph reads a funeral notice for Andrésy in Le Figaro that predates the killing, it's confirmation of first-degree murder. A Victor Hugo poem is one of several pieces of period art woven into the mystery's clever solution.
Psudonymous Izner's fifth Legris whodunit (The Assassin in the Marais, 2011, etc.) bubbles charmingly along courtesy of lively banter and larger-than-life Parisian characters.