cover image Death on the Cards

Death on the Cards

Richard Grayson. St. Martin's Press, $13.95 (223pp) ISBN 978-0-312-01758-3

In Grayson's seventh Jean-Paul Gautier mystery, the inspector is called in when two men are brutally stabbed in the Pigalle; soon after, two sailors are killed by a bomb on the luxurious houseboat of a wealthy arms dealer. The murders seem to be unconnected until the Surete receives a mysterious death list entitled ``The Fifteen Condemned Ones,'' which includes the names of the four victims plus those of the president of the republic, a judge and the minister of finance. Against each name on the list is a crude drawing of a playing card, seemingly chosen at random. The other inspectors at the Surete suspect that anarchists are behind this threat, but Gautier is not convinced. The cards, after all, must surely have some significance, and anarchists would have little if any reason to kill a businessman and a pimp. Grayson conveys the atmosphere and events of turn-of-the-century Paris as Gautier visits the cafes, salons and slums to solve the case. This is a well-written, richly detailed mystery, and the crime is especially well chosen for the period. (October)