Sixth in the author's series set in Paris of the belle Ã‰poque and featuring SuretÃ‰'s unflappable, sharp-witted Inspector Gautier, this time investigating the murder of elderly Lady Dorothy Strathy in her hotel room. As the case gets under way, Gautier, distressed by the death of one-time, still-loved wife Suzanne, is inveigled into a duel with man-about-town Comte De Bouttin--an impulse which leads to suspension from his duties. In the meantime, against Gautier's wishes, Lady Dorothy's downtrodden companion, Mary Newbolt, is arrested for the murder--and Gautier unofficially explores other leads, mostly having to cio with the ""Flower Girl Affair,"" a 10-year-old scandal in which Lady Dorothy's deceased brother, the Earl of Tain, was peripherally involved. A long-hidden participant in that scandal has gone to bloody lengths to protect his secret. It all comes clear in a melodramatic, laboriously contrived Finale, which detracts from the taut, absorbing quest that precedes it. Not up to the standard of Crime Without Passion (1984) but still worth the reader's time.