Historian Henry Adams, unlike his Presidential ancestors, is content with a non-political career. Circumstances, though, contrive to bring him into the center of the French Panama Canal scandal as he searches for a missing acquaintance, Miriam Talbot. His investigation soon reveals that she is connected to a list of chequards that could implicate many French bureaucrats in the Panama Canal’s mismanagement. Adams’ troubles increase as he finds himself assisting the French authorities with a murder case that could very easily end up pointing to him as a suspect.
Eric Zencey’s background as a scholar is evident as he inserts details like the pneumatique, a Parisian method of transporting messages through underground tubes, neatly into the story. Zencey also shows Adams’ struggle with his memories of his deceased wife and with the intentions of the other women in his life. At times, the momentum of the book is slowed by Adams’ grieving process, but the story’s sometimes gruesome, yet unexpected twists certainly redeem any philosophical wanderings. A detective novel with an introspective edge, this book will be of interest to those who enjoy the history of the Panama Canal.