Ninth in a richly textured series set in Paris of the early 1900's that chronicles the casebook of the SñretÇ's urbane Inspector Gautier (Death on the Cards, etc.), whose mistress of the moment is Princess Sophia Dashkova, wealthy widow of a Russian prince, in Paris to promote her newly formed ballet company. Rivalries and temperament abound in the Dashkova Ballet, and its director, Boris Ranevsky, is soon embroiled in a dispute with Judge Prudhome (rumored to be homosexual), who's found shot to death in a seedy hotel some days later. The murder of the retarded child of a quayside bookseller; the theft of guns and other items from the apartment of the Earl of Newry; and the fatal poisoning of a prima ballerina keep Gautier hopping, even in the wake of personal tragedy, until his intuitiveness and imagination clear the slate.... The solutions are a shade too far-fetched for credibility, but, still, this is agreeable entertainment--for its painlessly imparted history, heightened sense of time and place, and its pleasantly civilized style.