cover image The Essence of Malice

The Essence of Malice

Ashley Weaver. Minotaur, $24.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-06046-4

The demise of famous French parfumier Helios Belanger, who dies shortly after surviving a small plane crash, drives Weaver’s sparkling fourth 1930s historical featuring British socialite Amory Ames and her husband, Milo (after 2016’s A Most Novel Revenge). Though the death is ruled a heart attack, Milo’s former nanny, now employed by the Belanger family, asks Milo and Amory to investigate what she insists is murder. Shortly after arriving in Paris, the couple learn that confusion over Belanger’s will has left his son and daughter battling for company control, the formula for their groundbreaking soon-to-be-launched fragrance is missing, and Belanger’s young second wife may have a lover. Amory commissions a customized personal fragrance to insinuate herself into the family’s lives and business, while Milo creates some mystery of his own by disappearing for inquiries he won’t explain. Weaver so thoroughly assigns everyone in the victim’s orbit a motive that her plotting feels mechanical at times, but the power skirmishes between these equally clever spouses shine throughout. Agent: Ann Collette, Rees Literary Agency. (Sept.)