“The Paris Affair” by Susanne Dunlap is the third installation of the Theresa Schurman Mystery Books, and an exciting tale of intrigue during the reign of Marie Antoinette. Amid the sensational rumours surrounding the Queen, Theresa, an accomplished violinist and god-daughter to Haydn, is sent to France by Antoinette’s brother, Emperor Joseph II of Austria, to uncover the source of the circulating pamphlets blasting his sister.
Theresa is swept into a world of mystery while escaping the pressing decision of marriage to a Hungarian Baron, and she finds herself in the position as bookkeeper to the Queen of France’s milliner, Rose Bertin. Along the path of unravelling the puzzle, she encounters the Chevalier de Saint-George, a black man of extraordinary skill with both the violin and the sword; as well as someone from her past – Captain von Bauer, a man who annoys her, yet entices her. Music is her passion, solving mysteries is her skill, in this novel set in the turbulent city of eighteenth-century Paris, a time when rumours and scandal kill.
Being the third installation in the series, as a stand-alone book I must admit I was a bit confused at the beginning, so I do recommend reading the first two in the series before beginning this one. The outset assumed a person already knew the relationship between Theresa and the Emperor, as well as the love/hate relationship betwixt her and Captain von Bauer. That aside, the external conflict thrust upon her by the Emperor, as well as the internal conflict she has of whether to marry or not, sweeps you right into the story, continuing on into the thick of palace intrigue and murder.
This novel is perfect for a mid-teen to young adult wishing to delve into the world of historical fiction with a mix of mystery as the sentence structure is simple and the grammar is attuned to that age level with incredible skill. In other words, expect more of a Phyllis Whitney-style rather than Tolstoy, which is well in introducing young readers to the world of historical fiction.
What I liked: First, the cover is amazing!! Kudos to the designer!! Second, I loved the way the book handled the matters of prejudice during the time period, and the injustice; as well as the passion for the incredible music of the era. The book was easy to read, and I finished in one sitting.
What I did not like: I must admit, I am more of a Victor Hugo-girl when it comes to French Historical novels, so my preference for a thick, voluminous, and wordy story was not fulfilled with The Paris Affair; which, is not a bad thing, just not for me. I wanted more conflict, more internal dialogue, more tension, and more roller-coasters of passion. I loved the characters and the storyline, I just felt a craving for more.