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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Review - The Paris Affair

The Blog Carnival will be next Monday, so please send in your mystery book reviews this week (click here to submit an entry).  

I am new to the  Malcom & Suzanne Rannoch series, but I jumped at the chance to read it for the Historical Mystery Reading Challenge (click here.) 

Author: Teresa Grant

Copyright: March 2013 (Kensington) 436 pgs

Series: 3rd in Malcom & Suzanne Rannoch Historical Mysteries

Sensuality: Adult topics but no details

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Intrigue

Main Characters: Suzanne Rannoch, Former spy for Napoleonic France

Setting: 1815 -- shortly after Waterloo, Paris France

Obtained Through: purchased

It has been two months since Napoleon's defeat  at Waterloo and Paris is a hot bed of unrest.  The old French royalty are being reinstated to the rule the country and British soldiers are everywhere.  It is a powder keg waiting for a spark.  Malcom and Suzanne meet in a public bar to meet Antoine Rivere, a french double agent and blackmailer.  He manages to share to tidbits of information before a brawl ensues and Rivere is killed without Malcom and Suzanne witnessing who did it.  They begin to investigate what little Rivere had told them and begin to uncover spies, double agents, falsely accused spies, indiscretions, and secrets. The path to the truth of who killed Rivere and why is a long road with several eventful twists.

Suzanne Rannock has some big secrets she is hiding from her husband, and throughout the investigation of Rivere's murder she worries about the fallout if they ever come to light. she manages to even smuggle an old spy friend out of the country before the new regime can arrest her, and without Malcom knowing.  Suzanne isn't a coddled society lady, she has an unreputable past that comes dangerously close to her new life in this novel.  Malcom is a British attache and intelligence officer who wonders at this wife's abilities by his side as they investigate.  One of Rivere's bits of information touches on Malcolm's personal life and he takes some risks and uncharacteristically must confide in friends to gain their aid.  He is a nicely complex character.  Raoul, a former lover and Suzanne's prior spymaster is a complication as well as an ally in an era of uncertainty.  He apparently has a history with Malcolm too.  Rupert Caruthers and his wife Gabrielle Caruthers are integral parts to the unwinding plot, and they are both tragic in their own ways.  They stand out in the whole of the story.  Colonel Harry Davenport and Cordelia Davenport assist in a bit of the investigation and some clandestine maneuvers too.

The atmosphere of post-war France, with the Allied Powers restoring the Royalists to the throne, and the conquered Bonapartists being imprisoned becomes a part of the plot as well.  The volatile atmosphere is vivid throughout the story.

The plot is gradually uncovered during the investigation with several twists and revelations.  The complexity and danger grows as the story develops and the characters face their own vulnerabilities.  The climax is riveting and the wrap-up answers many questions and provides a second chance in one case.

Overall, this is an excellent novel with intrigue, secrets, twists, danger, heroics, and fine characters set in a historical setting rife with human drama.

Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend. 

For an added summer treat, try this Watermelon and Strawberry Lemonade


makes 2 quarts

    8 cups cubed seeded watermelon

    1 cup fresh strawberries, halved

    1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

    1 cup white sugar (or equivalent substitute)

    2 cups water


    Combine the watermelon, strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, and water in a blender. Blend until smooth.

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