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by Margot Justes
Echelon, March 2008
288 pages
ISBN: 1590805348

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The first thing readers should know about A HOTEL IN PARIS is that it's heavily weighted down by romance, which at times gives short shrift to the mystery side of the story. While Paris makes a great setting for romance, the actions of the potential love birds in question (Interpol Inspector Peter Riley and artist/amateur sleuth Minola Grey) makes the murder investigation side of the equation harder to swallow.

Mystery series that focus on amateur sleuths, like Minola Grey, always walk a fine line between what a character could actually do in the context of a real murder investigation and what they do in the setting of a novel. Readers are expected to suspend some expectations to enjoy a good story, but with A HOTEL IN PARIS, those who enjoy a challenging whodunit have to suspend disbelief to such a degree that it is nearly impossible to buy this story.

The action begins when a maid at the Parisian hotel where American artist Minola Grey is staying discovers a dead body just down the hall. Minola is almost immediately drawn into the case, both as sleuth and suspect. Actually, the Interpol Inspector Peter Riley (who comes to work with local police on the money laundering side of the dead man's business dealings) suspects Minola of being a lady of the evening. Of course, she is anything but, as readers eventually learn.

Minola's artistic eye for detail sets her up to be the perfect amateur sleuth, but the idea that Interpol and the police would work with (even assist in) some of her hare-brained ideas defies belief. Of course, Minola's own life is put in danger, allowing Inspector Riley to prove his love by protecting her. More dead bodies appear, and the case gets neatly tied up without much question about who's been pulling the strings all along in this deadly business. Readers may find that this mystery leaves a lot to be desired, but then again, they always have Paris.

Reviewed by Christine Zibas, February 2009

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