Was the killing of Madame Anne-Marie Buemondi on a hillside in Provence a few days before Christmas 1942 personal or political? Her husband, assistant director of the fine arts school in Cannes, not only had access to the antique crossbow that killed his wife but was sleeping with her latest lover, young Angelique; her former lover, weaver Viviane Darnot, was consumed with jealousy; and one of her twin daughters, an epileptic, needed restraints to keep her from violence. In addition, Jean-Paul Delphane, a member of the Deuxième Bureau now colluding with the Nazis, drops manipulative hints that Madame had been part of a Resistance escape route and that her killer might have been someone averse to the work of the maquis. While Gestapo Haupsturmführer Hermann Kohler toils under a Nazi ultimatum that he uncover the Resistance fighters within four days or every man and boy in the village will be executed, his wartime investigating partner, Sûreté Chief Inspector Jean-Louis St-Cyr, must reconsider his own and Delphane’s prewar links to the death of a Chamonix financier with ties to Viviane, the twins’ birth, and Madame’s desperate need for cash just before her death. Only after many more fatalities will a bleeding Kohler and an exhausted St-Cyr meet on the hillside with the collaborator, the weaver, and one of the twins to learn of more deaths and cause still another.
A kaleidoscope of brutal, constantly shifting patterns and alliances, with no easy relief for St-Cyr and Kohler, who are immediately packed off to another case in Lyon when this one ends. First published, like Mannequin (1998), in Great Britain (1993).