Murder with Deceit
by Winnfred Smith
Westwood Books Publishing, LLC

"You think you have it all under control, and then she appears."

A chance encounter on an Atlanta sidewalk leads John Stone to embark on an adventure that will take him all the way to Paris, France, and introduce him to an unforgettable woman and her family. When Stone first sees the enchanting, Nicole Powell and her sister, Patty, he is moved to song. He asks her out to dinner and agrees to take her anywhere she chooses, little knowing that her choice would be one made as a joke. However, Stone owns an IT company along with a private jet, so when Nicole impetuously suggests Le Beaujolais, he readily agrees to an impromptu trip to Paris for a meal at his old friend, Pappy's, restaurant. As the pieces begin to fall into place in this coincidence of events, Stone learns that Nicole and Patty's father had been killed in a questionable accident seven years prior. At Pappy's insistence, Stone leaves for Paris with Nicole, Patty, and a friend, the girls' mother, in tow. Now, Stone puts on his detective hat and begins to investigate their father's death.

There are elements of the noir in this fast-paced action thriller. Written in the first-person narrative, the voice of Stone recalls those of fifties film-noir detectives as portrayed by actors such as Humphrey Bogart in classics like The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep. One can almost imagine Bogart delivering lines like, "She was wearing a long, black dress. It had one of those cuts up one side, way above the knee." Though the setting is contemporary, the protagonist is old-fashioned, taking upon himself the role of protector and provider more than the lover of Nicole as he helps to uncover the mystery of her father's death. The setting of Paris is intriguing, and though Stone still clings to the memory of his deceased wife, there is still plenty of romance to be found as the characters enjoy the breathtaking sights of the city.

This is the third in the author's series about John Stone, following Murder Finds a Home and Murder Before Dawn. Smith's other mystery novel, Everyone Wants Madison follows IT guy Madison Brown as he searches for another of the same name, who turns out to be a beautiful young woman. Smith has a knack for realistically developing his female characters. As a tenth grader, he was one of only two males in a typing class, which consisted of twenty-two students. Perhaps this gave him an early understanding of the female mind. Also, when living in Mississippi, he became the editor of the Mississippi Writers Association's newsletter, where he met the writer Eudora Welty along with many other Mississippi writers, which fed his desire to become a writer. With these influences, it is no surprise that Smith seamlessly blends mystery with romance while writing believable dialogue.

Those who enjoy detective stories will love the many twists and turns found in this fast-moving novel. It's setting of Paris adds to the intrigue and romance afforded readers. With a multi-faceted plot and memorable characters, this one will likely inspire readers to read the other John Stone mysteries and perhaps check out the author's short story collections as well.

Return to USR Home