Paris in the Jazz Age is a terrific hook for a mystery, and Laurie R. King gives us many of the big names (Man Ray, Ernest Hemingway, Josephine Baker, just to name a few) who added extra glow to the City of Light in the 1920s. She also includes plenty of descriptions of Paris's streets and haunts as well as French food and dialog. All this is to the good.
Where things go wrong is with the characters. This is not part of the Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell series. Instead, it features the characters King introduced in her 2007 book, Touchstone. The protagonist is an American private detective named Harris Stuyvesant, who is trying to find a young American woman named Pip who had been living it up in the artistic and expatriate community before she seemingly dropped off the face of the earth.
The Stuyvesant character never comes to life, nor do any of the book's other characters. Stuyvesant was just an empty suit running around a city both glittering and menacing. The two other characters from Touchstone appear briefly at the beginning and then again only much later in the book. If you read this book without having first read Touchstone, you may well feel at a loss about these characters.
Stuyvesant's search for Pip leads him into the horror of a deranged and perverted mind. For me, the crazed killer theme in mystery has been overdone and it takes real invention to make it feel fresh and interesting. Unfortunately, that's not the case here. Between the weak characters and the distasteful (to me, at least) murder plot, the book was a disappointment that no amount of evocative atmosphere could make up for.