cover image The Collector of Dying Breaths

The Collector of Dying Breaths

M.J. Rose. Atria, $25 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4516-2153-2

Rose's third suspense novel featuring perfumer Jac L'Etoile (after 2013's Seduction) again toggles between past and present; this time, the vividly portrayed historical sections are set in 16th-century Italy and France. In 1573, Rene le Florentin, who crafted fragrances for Catherine de Medeci, reflects on the path he took to that position; 40 years earlier, he was in Florence, the apprentice to a monk, Dom Serapino, who instructed him in the art of mixing chemicals to create pleasing odors. Serapino had another focus, however; he believed that by capturing a person's last breath in a bottle, he could collect that person's soul. If he got someone else to inhale it, he thought that he could revive the dead. Rene gets an opportunity to put the theory to the test when his mentor dies, but finds himself suspected of facilitating the monk's death. In the present, L'Etoile is bereft by the death of her brother Robbie, who had run the family perfume business, and finds herself making use of her "ability to see past her own time" to uncover Rene's secrets. Crisp, evocative prose elevate this above other paranormal thrillers. Agent: Dan Conaway, Writer's House. (Apr.)