Mirage

J. Robert Janes, Author
J. Robert Janes, Author Dutton Books $20 (272p) ISBN 978-1-55611-340-6
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Janes's ( The Hiding Place ) engrossing solidly commercial whodunit, the first in a planned series, pairs a Gestapo agent and a Surete detective ordered to investigate a murder in the occupied France of 1942. When a young man is killed in Fontainebleau Forestsic , the gruff but not inhuman Hermann Kohler dismisses the crime as Resistance retribution. But Jean-Louis St-Cyrsic doubts that the victim, found without ID, was a collaborator. And he discovers an unusual clue: a silk-and-pearl purse stuffed with diamonds. As St-Cyr searches for its owner, Kohler is pressured to drop the case--he's threatened with reassignment to the Russian front--and St-Cyr's wife leaves him for a strapping storm trooper. But St-Cyr has more pressing problems than marital infidelity. For starters, the Resistance is blaming him for the murder. Then a second murder stops the sleuths in their tracks. Enter a countess and a general in the Waffen SS who is desperate to wrap up the case. Although utterances such as ``Gott in Himmel'' and ``Ah, mon Dieu'' must serve as atmosphere, the characters' complex relationships--Kohler and St-Cyr's; St-Cyr and his wife's; Frenchmen and their new masters'--make for a fast-moving and absorbing story. (Oct.)
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