Bertie and the Crime of Passion

Peter Lovesey, Author Mysterious Press $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-89296-550-2

Lovesey's third spirited mystery to feature Edward VII, Prince of Wales, as a dogged, often fatuous but ever-successful amateur sleuth (Bertie and the Tinman) finds the royal in Paris in 1891. There, Bertie is discreetly enjoying the City of Light's pleasures and his platonic meetings with reigning actress Sarah Bernhard, when Maurice Letissier, prospective son-in-law of Bertie's old friend Jules d'Agincourt, is shot dead at the Moulin Rouge. Present when the unseen gunman fired were Jules, his wife, his newly betrothed daughter and his younger son, all celebrating the engagement while, along with dozens of other patrons, they watched the frenzied dancing of the notorious La Goulue and her partner, Valentin. Bertie's detecting instincts are aroused, especially as he becomes aware of the victim's libertine ways and of his fiancee's involvement with Glyn Morgan, a penniless, 50-year-old painter. When the Surete arrest Morgan for the crime, Bertie, convinced of his innocence, is spurred to bolder explorations of the city's seamier aspects, producing at last a surprising confession. A lively evocation of fin-de-siecle Paris, a lightly ironic tone and some tidy plotting add up to another easy-to-take confection from this reliable British author. (Jan.)
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