The Paris Affair
The Paris Affair begins with a two-page list of characters, a mix of real historical figures and fictional people. The opening chapters are full of drama as Teresa Grant sets the time, place and political situation then caps it off with intrigue and murder. A great way to start. Soon, Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch are trying to unravel three mysteries: the death of Bertrand Laclos, a French émigré who acted as a British spy; the death of Antoine Rivere, who moments before dying threatened that the information he had would “shake the British delegation to its core”; and the revelation that Malcolm’s half-sister, Princess Tatiana Kirsanova, may have borne a child.
Grant brings historical detail to life with the unobtrusiveness that indicates a skilled storyteller. As the main protagonists, Suzanne and Malcolm are people we care about: deeply in love, with difficult pasts, skilled in espionage and yet flawed in other ways. Several of the lesser characters, both real and fictional, also demand our attention.
The plot twists and turns as Suzanne and Malcolm, aided by their closest friends, uncover clue after clue in pursuit of the truth. Every step forward reveals deeper secrets along with political struggles and family crises. The ending is both satisfying and surprising despite the many secrets that remain.
What did I wish for? Fewer descriptions of clothing, setting, appearance, and gestures intermingled with dialogue. Such descriptions slowed the pace and detracted from the main story. I would have preferred a less complex cast of characters and side stories. I also found the sections providing background from earlier novels rather confusing, although I’m sure those who have read Grant’s prior books in the series will have an easier time piecing together these threads.