The Paris Affair (A Theresa Schurman Mystery)

Written by Susanne Dunlap
Review by Valerie Adolph

The year is 1783, and Viennese violinist Theresa Schurman has been asked to go to Paris to help discover who is writing and printing pamphlets that slander Queen Marie Antoinette.

This is the time of vast extravagance of the French court as well as hostilities between the two branches of the royal family. Theresa’s adventures take her into the rich court life of the time, thanks to her friendship with the enigmatic Sophie. It also takes her into a well-run brothel and to working in the back room of the queen’s milliner. But her two most interesting contacts are musician and fencer the Chevalier de Saint-George and the dangerously unpredictable Captain von Bauer. She is never sure whether either of them is a friend or an enemy.

The novel has widely varied settings, vivid with well-chosen detail, and even more interesting characters, from Marie Antoinette herself to the girls in the brothel and the milliner’s workroom.

Throughout the novel runs the theme of music and Theresa’s love of her violin. Her meetings with the Chevalier de Saint-George, a character taken from the pages of history, show great feeling and depth, especially in the scenes where she is able to play her violin along with him.

As her previous novels show, the author is an experienced researcher and writer of historical novels, which often have an undertone of music and musicians. This strong background enriches this mystery novel and enhances the plot twists and tension. From the first paragraph, the reader is drawn into an unfamiliar word-world, safe in the hands of an accomplished author and historian. A very enjoyable read.