In the world of espionage, old grievances die hard...or don’t die at all.
A burglary rattles the sedate life of Louis Morgon and ladylove Solesme in the bucolic French village of Saint-Léon sur Dême. The crime at first seems random, but Louis decides that it’s the work of his enemy, Hugh Bowes. During the Ford administration, Louis had worked as an undersecretary for Bowes in the State Department and, after being betrayed, gotten very satisfying revenge upon Bowes (A French Country Murder, 2003). Once Louis shares his story and suspicions with local police official Jean Renard, his good friend, it doesn’t take long to arrest and convict small-time criminal Pierre Lefort for the burglary. As Louis and Solesme cope with the progression of her terminal illness, Bowes weaves an elaborate plan for retribution that includes the sitting President of the United States. Louis attempts to enlist the support of Lefort, or at least to learn all that the hapless man has to tell. These are the opening moves in an elaborate cat-and-mouse game that will prompt an uneasy Louis to cross the Atlantic to his old stomping grounds in Washington, D.C.
New Yorker cartoonist Steiner’s best passages explore the subtler colors in human relationships, and his prose is packed with quirky surprises. Think of the overly twisty plot as a MacGuffin for a series of sublimely observed scenes.