His latest case could be Inspector Achille Lefebvre’s finest hour, if it isn’t his last.
Of course, the body hanging off Suicide Bridge in the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont looks at first like a suicide. But Lefebvre (The Devil in Montmartre, 2014), versed as he is in the most modern forensic science 1890 can boast, has his photographer, Gilles, take shots of the note pinned to the body, and voilà—the fingerprints on the corpse fail to match those on the note. The Cyrillic script on the note sends him to Mme. Nazimova, a Russian bookseller connected to Paris’s Slavic community. She identifies the deceased as Lev Dmitryevich Kadyshev, a Russian émigré with ties to known anarchists Peter Kropotkin and Louise Michel. His landlady admits that Kadyshev spent his evenings at the Lapin Agile in Montmartre with “a group of like-minded individuals.” One of those individuals, Viktor Boguslavsky, is a chemist with access to an explosive his compatriots could use in mass bombings. So Lefebvre must leave the safety of the city walls through the Porte de Clignancourt to ask his most trusted unofficial deputy, famed outlaw Le Boudin, to set his silent, nearly invisible chiffoniers on the trail of the shadowy Russians. Out of respect for Lefebvre, the thief even offers his daughter, the prostitute Delphine, to help infiltrate the terrorist cell. Will the Inspector risk Delphine’s life along with his own to save half of Paris from being blown to bits?
A case every bit as baffling as the hero’s debut. Here’s hoping for another entry in this atmospheric series.