A single red shoe draws Parisian bookseller Victor Legris into another tantalizing murder puzzle.
The young ladies of Mademoiselle Bontemps' boarding school look forward to every outing with breathless anticipation. Love-struck Élisa contemplates a secret rendezvous with her admirer Gaston, and stiff Monsieur Mori shares with the headmistress his concern for the safety of his goddaughter Iris. The City of Light bustles with activity and romance in 1891, its streets crisscrossed by the "purveyor of milk" Grégoire Mercier and many others. Among these is a nameless man with obsessively mercurial habits and deadly intentions. Meantime, Victor spends too much time away from his book shop in pursuit of Tasha, a vibrant and flirtatious painter. His absence leaves his assistant Jojo with the solitude for a more melancholy romantic reverie. His mother Madame Pignot, a costermonger, deplores his thin, pale, unshaven appearance and begs him to eat. Then a strangely attired man brings a lady's slipper decorated with pearls to the bookshop, whose address is jammed inside "like an inner sole." Could there be a connection to the young woman found strangled and disfigured by acid at Killer's Crossing? Victor and Jojo can't resist finding out.
The pseudonymous Izner creates a tapestry of Parisian portraits and name-drops like crazy (Bernhardt, Anatole France, Toulouse-Lautrec). Legris's third case (The Disappearance at Père-Lachaise, 2009, etc.) is a bagatelle, but an attractive one for those as stimulated as Victor by the city's joie de vivre.