The Paris Mystery (Charlie James Mystery)

Written by Kirsty Manning
Review by Shauna McIntyre

Charlie James is a journalist and, in a surprising twist for her new boss at the Paris desk of The Times, a woman. Set in 1938, amid the glitz and glamour of fashionable society with plenty of haute couture, parties, and eccentric artists, this novel draws on an unusual mix of characters.

For her first assignment, Charlie is tasked with interviewing Lady Eleanor Ashworth about her interior design. But Charlie knows that this is only the beginning, and if she wants to prove herself worthy of more interesting stories, she will need the connections Lady Eleanor can provide. When she manages to snag an invitation to the most important ball of the season, she hopes to make the most of it. That night, a murder at the party puts Charlie in the center of the investigation, as a journalist with an inside connection to many of the key suspects. As the events unfold, Charlie finds herself with the scoop of the century, and at risk of getting caught in the fray.

While the fast pace of the plot keeps the story moving, it does rely on a number of relationships developing much more quickly over a two-week period than is reasonable. Much is also made of the differences in social class, despite the fact that nearly all the characters in the book break from those strictures. These two aspects push the bounds of believability on occasion but do not detract from the fun glimpse into Paris in the 1930s. I enjoyed the female reporter as protagonist for a different take on the mystery genre, including her growing relationship with the inspector.