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.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A