The Minister's Secret
A Guillermo Lombardo Mystery in Paris
by Rodolfo Peña
July 16th, 1942. André Dumont is a collaborationist who has made a fortune buying art and valuables from Jews who sell their collections and heirlooms at ridiculously low prices in order to quickly obtain money as they attempt to escape from Europe. Dumont has befriended the Schwartzmanns so he can evaluate their art collection. He not only becomes a friend of the family, but he becomes the lover of the Schwartzmanns eldest daughter, Anna. André Dumont, using his influence and friends in the Nazi hierarchy in Paris, manages to get the Schwartzmann family listed for deportation. He wants to rid himself of any person who can claim the art he plans to have confiscated from the Schwartzmanns. The Schwartzmanns are arrested, but Anna, who has been living with Dumont, escapes the round-up. Dumont denounces his lover to the Nazis in order to rid himself of the last person who may lay claim to the Schwartzmann collection. Present Day. After her mother dies, Mimi is putting away her mothers things and she discovers that the woman who she thought was her grandmother was not her biological grandmother. Her real grandmothers name was Anna, someone who, along with all of her family, died in the Nazi death camps. She comes to know all of this through Annas diary. In it, she finds out that her familys art collection was stolen and she decides to embark on a quest to recover it. In Paris, Edouard Dumont, son of André Dumont, is the French Minister of Culture. He desperately needs money to finance his political career and save the financially struggling family business, a huge art gallery and auction house, from bankruptcy. He wants to sell the art his father left him, art stolen from the Jews. Edouard Dumonts and Mimis destinies are about to cross as part of her plan to find out what happened to her familys art collection, Mimi gets a job at Edouard Dumonts art auction business. While working there, Mimi discovers that some of the art that will be sold at auction has very shady provenance. Could this be part of her familys collection? Enter Guillermo Lombardo, a retired police inspector, who rents Mimis Paris apartment for a week and finds himself romantically entangled with the woman. Things soon take a turn for the worst for Lombardo. Upon his arrival in Brittany to see friends, a policeman shows up to question Lombardo. It seems Mimi has been reported missing and Mimi's friend, Sophie, has been found strangled in her own apartment. As Lombardo was the last person to see Mimi before she disappeared, the police consider him a suspect in Mimi's disappearance. To clear his name, Lombardo must find his missing lover, and stay one step ahead of a vicious killer.
- Untreed Reads, October 2012
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