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London investment banker Tim Simpson (Sheep, Goats, and Soap, etc.), with some knowledge of perfume and cosmetics from his Brazil experience several cases back, is dispatched to Paris to assess the Bellevie cosmetics firm. No sooner does he arrive, however, than Madame Delattre, its owner, falls under the subway, and its pretty market-research manager tipsily steps out one of her windows. Accidents? Or do they tie in with the car fatality of Bonnet, Tim's predecessor in reviewing the Bellevie prospects? Between meetings with bank managers and tours of the plant facility at Nantes, Tim learns of Madame's heroic past as a member of the French underground, and her long-ago liaisons with two other resistance fighters--Sir Richard and Eugene Maucourt--both eager to have their bank affiliated with the cosmetics concern. Another complication seems to be the parallels between the career of a Degas contemporary, the artist Tissot, and all the locals Tim is called on to visit in his investigation. Is some old WW II vendetta surfacing? Or, perhaps, a plan to inflate the price of Tissot's works coming on the market? Finally--with far too many references to his previous adventures, and a major scuffle resulting in one death, one coma, and a barely mumbled clue--Tim deduces what's going on. Spritely and literate but still a notch beneath the author's best work.

Pub Date: Dec. 9th, 1992
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Scribners