Peril in Paris by Katherine Woodfine

peril in paris

As the glorious series of Sinclair’s Mysteries by Katherine Woodfine drew to a close we learned that Mr Sinclair the owner of the eponymous department store had performed services for both the American and British spy agencies. Therefore it is no surprise that Sophie Taylor and Lillian Rose, the joint owners of Taylor & Rose Detective Agency, which operates from offices on the first floor of the opulent Piccadilly department store, now count the newly established Secret Service Bureau amongst their clients.

This story bursts onto the page with Sophie tailing a suspicious “Grey Man” through Victoria Station to whisk away his notebook of secret codes, whilst Lil is away in Europe on an undercover mission. Before long, Sophie too has to head to Europe, travelling to Paris, posing as rich, aristocratic, Miss Celia Blaxland. She doesn’t have Lil’s acting background, and is reassured to have her colleague Tilly, a technical genius, accompanying her disguised as a ladies’ maid. Her mission is to investigate the murder of Professor Blaxland, her alter-ego’s uncle, who was an expert on languages at The Sorbonne, and had been working for the secret service.

Meanwhile, in the small, fictional, strategically-placed country of Arnovia, the young Prince Alex and Princess Anna are in the care of a rather unconventional governess. Sharp-witted fans of Katherine Woodfine’s earlier books may begin to suspect the identity of this governess long before the princess decides to do a little investigating!

The plot moves along at a cracking pace and is full of the period detail and rich characterisation that I have come to expect in a Katherine Woodfine story. Alongside the drama there are interesting reflections on the expectations for females in the early part of the twentieth century. Princess Anna is constantly frustrated that her education is so limited while her brother is being sent away for an academic education in preparation for his future role. Simultaneously, Sophie, Lil and Tilly are all determined to prove that they are equal to whatever task they are given, in defiance of the sneering attitude of some of their colleagues. The dramatic conclusion of the adventure will leave you eager to fly into the second book in this series, Spies in St Petersburg which I have reviewed here.

A highly recommended adventure for anyone of 9 and above.

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