A busy, dull sequel to the un-promising The Provence Puzzle (1980)--which introduced Chief Inspector Damiot and his canine sidekick Fric-Frac (who must be the least interesting dog in all fiction). This time Damiot is sent, more or less incognito, to help the Riviera police as they investigate the theft of a CÃ‰zanne from a Nice museum and the connected murder of elderly collector Florian Vattier. What Damiot uncovers there is a ridiculously complex and woolly plot involving a group of artists and crooks, an astrologer and a hypnotist--all under the manic direction of an American billionaire with a scheme to steal every Vermeer in the world. Accompanied by Vattier's granddaughter (and the insufferable Fric-Frac), Damiot has dozens of fancy meals, stays in an array of lush houses and hotels, and covers all the best Riviera scenery. But, as in The Provence Puzzle, the high-life accouterments are little help here--not when they're merely the padding around a mishmash plot, wooden dialogue, and enough loose ends to knit up a blanket. . . under which the weary reader will want to seek respite.