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by Mark Pryor
Seventh Street Books, January 2014
293 pages
ISBN: 1616148152

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Senator Lake hates the French but is nonetheless in France to attend a political summit dealing with an unimportant island. Hugo Marston, an ex-FBI security expert for the US ambassador to France, is assigned to "babysit" the senator as he heads to a beautiful country chateau for the talks. Although this is a waste of Hugo's talents, he puts up no fight, looking forward to good food and wine during the assignment. When Senator Lake wakes in the middle of the night claiming that someone has entered his room, Hugo is not sure whether the senator's claim is real or whether it is a manifestation of his xenophobia. He calls in his old friend Raul Garcia, a French police captain, who is also happy to join the contingent at the chateau (thanks to the good food and wine) and who dusts the senator's room for fingerprints in spite of resistance from the chateau's owner, Henri Tourville. When a fingerprint that ties what turns out to have been a real intruder to a recent murder is found, Raul and Hugo start an investigation into the murder.

The investigation ranges throughout Paris and centers on jewelry and a sailor's chest that was stolen from the murdered woman's home. Staff from the chateau are interviewed, but the owner will not abide having anyone fingerprinted neither staff nor family. Included among the family are Alexandra, Tourville's sister who has a very checkered past, her assistant, and of course the chateau owner himself. As Hugo, Raul, Hugo's CIA friend Tom, and Camille, a transgendered police detective, track down the murderer, more killings take place, and a plot line that connects with Alexanda's new job as a genealogist takes form.

The plot is very convoluted and at times strains credibility. However, the writing is superb, and the interactions between the series characters are realistic and nuanced. There is humor in the way that Hugo and Tom interact and true camaraderie and then sadness in the way Hugo and Raul work together. Hugo's girlfriend, a reporter, and he have put space between themselves, and Hugo's yearning for her lends humanity and humility to a man who otherwise could veer into superhero territory. The locations are well described, both in the city of Paris and in the countryside, so that reading the book transplants the reader to the setting. THE BLOOD PROMISE's strengths outweigh the implausibility of the plot, making the book a great read. I think the book could be read without having met Hugo in the earlier two books, but it is certainly enhanced by knowing the relationship between the characters already.

Sharon Mensing is the Head of School of Emerald Mountain School, an independent school in the mountains of Colorado, where she lives, reads, and enjoys the outdoors.

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, December 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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