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Frank Gertcher
The Cat in the Window Murders
In the third volume of the Caroline Case Mystery Series, beautiful and independently wealthy Caroline Case Jones departs Chicago for Europe on the luxury ship SS Isle de France. She and Hannibal, her enigmatic new husband, enter a war-scarred continent embroiled in social turmoil and political upheaval. Solving murders is the name of the game.
Air Force veteran and scientist Gertcher charms in the third Caroline Case mystery series (after The Blind Pig Murders), set in Paris immediately before the stock market crash in 1929. Private detective Caroline Case Jones and her new husband, Major Hannibal Jones, set sail from the U.S. aboard the luxury ship SS Isle de France hoping for a relaxing vacation. Instead, they help the ship’s officers solve an on-board murder. After the ship docks, Hannibal and Caroline are all set for a proper holiday—until bodies start dropping from Le Havre to Paris and beyond. Soon, the stylish duo are tapped to help solve the murders—if they can do so without ending up dead themselves. Their madcap adventures stretch from cathedral to countryside farm to Gabriele “Coco” Chanel’s chic salon, with the death toll rising at every stop.

Gertcher’s loving detail throughout about late twenties fashion–Chanel, Lanvin and others—will captivate vintage fashion buffs (and, likely, make them drool with envy at Caroline’s access to couture). The clever title is a reference to the nickname the French Gendarmerie gives the detective—the elegant black cat in the window. Supporting characters, especially Annette, the granddaughter of a mob boss, who Caroline meets during an eventful appointment at Chanel’s salon, add appealing depth to the storyline.

While generally well-edited, a few clunkers distract, and some of Caroline’s internal dialogue tells more than it shows. Still, Gertcher’s clever storyline, well-drawn characters, and excellent pacing will enchant historical mystery fans (especially those who are fans of Chanel, Schiaparelli, and Lanvin) leave them eager for the Hannibal and Caroline’s next adventure, tantalizingly teased at the end of this one. This historical mystery provides an irresistible glimpse into the past, with a hero and heroine readers (especially fashionistas) will adore.

Takeaway: An irresistible historical mystery married fashion and murder in prewar France.

Great for fans of: Mary Higgins Clark, Agatha Christie.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: A