Paris to Die For
In 1951, a young Jacqueline Bouvier declined a position with Vogue magazine because she had been offered “a special job on a certain project” with the newly formed CIA. Maxine Kenneth took this cryptic reference from an actual letter in the John F. Kennedy Library and from it spun a fun and frothy mystery.
Jackie’s first assignment with the CIA was supposed to be easy. Meet with a Russian defector in Paris and secure from him sensitive information. But the Russian turns up dead and, with the assassin hot on her heels, Jackie finds herself up to her satin-gloved elbows in international espionage. Although Jackie draws on every unorthodox skill in her handbag, including her skills as an equestrienne and, in one quick-thinking instance, her Chanel No. 5 atomizer, she’s no match for the persistent assassin. She calls on Jacques Rivage, a French photographer and CIA liaison, to help her retrieve the Russian’s intel while, at the same time, staying alive. But Jacques provides trouble of his own in the form of smoldering good looks, the tendency to kiss her at exactly the wrong moment, and more than a few secrets of his own.
Part mystery, part chick lit, Paris to Die For is all fun. It manages to bring together a satisfying mystery and Cold War espionage with a lighthearted romance and gushing tour of Paris. It’s full of name-dropping, with cameos from Wallis Simpson to Ian Fleming to the then-unknown Audrey Hepburn, and peppered with delightful bits of pop culture. I’m already anticipating the next book in the series.