Seventh Street Books © 2014 Mark Pryor
The book begins in Paris, in 1795, with a letter being written, and with a burial.
Then, still in Paris, but in the present, Hugo Marston (head of security for the US Embassy) has been handed the job of helping coordinate security for a US Senator, Charles Lake, who is arriving in Paris to negotiate with the French about a tiny island in the Caribbean, (the island is French territory, but both its inhabitants and the US government want sovereignty to be yielded to the US). Lake has aspirations for the presidency and is very much concerned to reduce the US commitments to the outside world.
The negotiations are to occur in an old mansion, the property of the Tourville family; Henri Tourville has a position near the top of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. His sister Alexie, who occasionally lectures in history, has a special interest in (and business investigating) genealogy. On the first night after negotiations begin. Lake believes that he has been drugged and that someone has entered his room at the chateau. Marston (and everyone else) is skeptical. (I should mention one thing, that really did not strike me as soon as it should have. The US negotiating team was a bit weird, consisting solely of the Senator—no one from the State Department, no assistants or communications people or note takers, no support staff at all. These folks need not have been significant to the story, but some of them ought to have been there.)
We eavesdrop, in a sense, on a theft at another chateau, and on a murder that occurs in the course of it. This becomes important when a fingerprint taken at the scene matches a fingerprint found in the Senator’s bedroom.
As has been the case in the three prior books (chronologically in the series narrative, if not in order of publication), Marston winds up working closely with Raul Garcia, a high-ranking Parisian cop, and Tom Green, a CIA agent and long-time friend. As things develop, Lake disappears for a day, occasioning a bit of panic, and refuses to say where he was or why he disappeared (he left his cell phone behind to prevent being tracked). And while the murder investigation seems not to be progressing, it’s also the case that the negotiations (which occur off-screen) also seem not to be achieving much.
Pryor’s narrative unfolds very nicely, and we become even more invested in the continuing characters in the series. The twists of the plot occur almost naturally, if (in at least one case) in wholly unexpected ways. And the denouements—there are two, really—flow almost seamlessly from the story. I don’t know how well this series is doing commercially, but I guarantee that it is doing very well artistically. I strongly recommend these books.