Despite the fact that this is a murder mystery and death is present, the prevailing atmosphere is light-hearted and, at times, somewhat like a theatrical farce as likable and entertaining characters go back and forth. The period details of late 19th century Paris are well done and the inclusion of contemporary authors and trends in the Parisian book trade are clever and well-drawn. An enjoyable and entertaining variation on the whodunit.
'Young man, you have an annoying habit of procrastinating!', barked the Comtesse de Salignac.
'What on earth? Why is the battleaxe talking to me about procreation?' wondered Joseph, engaged in tying up the parcel for the Comtesse, his first customer of the morning.
'You've been promising me George de Peyrebune's Dairy of a Blue-stocking from Ollendorf for an eternity. Some Hope! How much do I owe you?'
The Comtesse de Salignac glared at Joseph from behind her lorgnette. She leant forward a little to study the book that he was trying to hide under his newspaper.
'Fenimore Cooper.... The young today simply revel in violence! And people wonder at the rising tide of crime!' she explained, her mouth formed in the disapproving shape of a parrot's beak.