cover image The Paris Manuscript

The Paris Manuscript

Joseph Goodrich. Perfect Crime, $17 trade paper (188p) ISBN 978-1-935797-94-4

Edgar-winning playwright Goodrich (Panic) makes his fiction debut with an uneven mystery in which Marcel Proust turns detective. In 1979, octogenarian Ned Jameson reluctantly consents to his daughter Annabelle’s proposal that he move from the Pennsylvania home he shared for many years with his late wife, Daisy, to Amherst, Mass., to live with Annabelle and her husband. His packing up triggers memories of the dramatic events of 60 years earlier. Flashback to 1919 Paris. With the Paris Peace Conference underway, then reporter Jameson is swamped with work, but he must deal with a family crisis after Daisy’s brother, Allan Herbert, a cryptographer at the American embassy, requests his help. Herbert’s homosexuality attracted the attention of blackmailer Harry Burke, whose initial demands for money were followed by more problematic ones. Burke offered to keep Herbert’s secret if his victim gave the extortionist access to confidential embassy documents relating to German war reparations. When Burke’s killed and implicates Daisy with his final words, the couple’s friend Proust, who has demonstrated his deductive chops unmasking an upper-class thief, investigates to identify another suspect among the many who wished Burke dead. The drama of the setup isn’t matched by the investigation or its resolution. Others have done a better job of evoking the period. (Apr.)