Murder in Paris
by D-L Nelson
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781432826932
Date: 19 June 2013 / Show Official Info /
As in Nelson's earlier Third Culture Kid mysteries, she tells two stories. One is contemporary and one is set in the past. The novel is set in a rescue dig in Paris on the site of what may be a 14th century inn. One of the staff excavating the site is killed. Is the rest of the staff at risk, or is one of them the murderer?
Suspicion falls initially on Luca Martinelli, the professor, leading the project. Luca is a friend and former flame of Annie Young, the amateur sleuth in all the Culture Kid series mysteries. She believes in his innocence and tries to help him. Currently estranged from his jealous wife, he hopes for a reconciliation.
The dig site is holding up the construction of a new restaurant. The developer is losing money while the dig continues and exerts pressure to stop it. The developer has an alibi.
The victim, an attractive young woman, wanted an affair with Luca, but he was not interested. She was not popular with other members of the team, but none of them had a motive to kill her. When the team finds a valuable coin, the police wonder if theft of something she found could be the motive. There is no record of any such find.
As the dig continues, they uncover the skeletons of a baby and a young woman. The police determine it dates back to the 14th century and is not relevant to the murder. Then, someone murders Luca, but at some distance from the site. Again, the police find no clues to the murderer.
The second story concerns a young man, Jacques, raised in a monastery and sent to Paris for further education. His uncle, also his mentor, believes he needs exposure to the outside world. In Paris, Jacques finds students are not welcomed in many places. Eventually he finds an inn that will rent him a room.
Jacques pities the innkeeper's abused daughter and intervenes to save her from one surly customer. Over time, he befriends her. She tries to reward him, but he struggles to remain true to his vows.
The story from the past is less compelling and vivid than those in previous titles in the series, in particular Murder in Geneva. It is harder to sympathize with the priggish Jacques than an artist burned at the stake. Annie, of course, solves the crime, but in a less satisfying and more clichéd way than in the past.
Other titles in the Third Culture Kid series are: Murder in Caleb's Landing, Murder in Argeles, Murder in Geneva.