An international murder mystery shakes the life of a grandmother-turned–amateur sleuth.
Sara is visiting in Paris on business as a professional translator of mystery novels. She tours some of her favorite haunts along the Fifth Arrondissement, including a cafe with pastis, and boards a bus to the Institut du monde arabe. When the bus lurches, a dozing Hassidic man slumps onto Sara, and she realizes he has been stabbed to death. The French authorities interrogate her repeatedly before allowing her to return home to Canada. Once home, the Canadian authorities contact her since the Hassidic traveler was recently in the country on business. As it happens, her best friend, a lawyer, knew the man. Using the information she learned from the police (the dead man’s name and business), Sara begins to try to piece together what has happened, although her husband wishes she wouldn’t. When a second murder occurs, Sara believes the two killings are related, and she asks her two daughters to do some digging. Williams creates a funny, appealing busybody in her lead. And descriptions of France and Canada animate Sara’s surroundings as she visits, for example, “superb Delacroix frescoes tucked away in one of the chapels.” Some of the lead’s deductive leaps are hard to follow, and several perplexing plot threads go unexplained until the conclusion. The mystery’s solution comes to light in the last scene as Sara spills everything; but once the answer is finally laid bare, it’s almost too tidy when the rest of the mystery featured so much detail.
Despite some spotty plot twists and a forced ending, Sara’s adventures abroad prove an enjoyable read.