A chance for a short-term job on an archaeological dig in Paris breaks up a relationship and threatens much worse damage.
Multilingual American Annie Young’s work as a part-time technical writer brings in enough money to finance her passion for history the rest of the year. Since she considers herself her own boss, Annie returns French police chief Roger Perret’s engagement ring when he forbids her to go to Paris for a few weeks to work on an old boyfriend’s dig. Luca Martinelli, who has only a short period of time to explore an old building found when a site is excavated for a new structure, gets most of his help from unpaid students. Luca is separated from his wife, who’s grown tired of his endless short-term relationships. His latest, with Amelie, a dig volunteer, ends only when she’s shot to death at the site. Annie’s decision to share an absent friend’s apartment with Luca only increases Roger’s jealousy and makes it harder for his teenage daughter to get the couple back together. Although Amelie was not well-liked, no one seemed to hate her enough to kill her, and the Paris police are starved for suspects. Arriving in Paris, Roger is furious when he sees a barely clothed Luca and Annie fresh from the shower. So when Luca is found shot as well, Roger first becomes a suspect and then an investigator, though Annie holds the key to finding the killer. Alternating chapters present the story of the site, a low 14th-century tavern where a Cistercian scholar is tempted to forsake his calling for a woman.
Nelson’s fourth Third-Culture Kid mystery (Murder In Geneva, 2012, etc.) provides a slight mystery, a charming heroine enjoying life in present-day France and just a tad too much historical back story.