Victorine Better Mystery than Romance

Victorine is a surprising novel for Frances Parkinson Keyes. It’s about half her usual length, and, though it sets out to be one of her typical romances, it turns out to be an engrossing murder mystery.

Bachelor Prosper Villac manages one of his family’s two rice mills. He’s smitten by a dance hall musician who is the girlfriend of the club’s sleazy owner. When Titine announces she wants gold slippers, Prosper determines to get them for her.

Then Prosper meets gorgeous, rich Victorine LaBranche That would have been the end of Titine—except that Prosper had already delivered and received payment from Titine for the gold slippers.

Two nights later, Titine is found dead, buried in a bin of rice in Prosper’s mill. She’s wearing gold slippers.

When Prosper has to view the body, he sees the slippers Titine is wearing are not the ones he bought for her.

Romance has to take a back seat to the murder investigation, which is fortunate. The mystery is well-plotted, the characters in it surprisingly vivid. By contrast, Prosper and Victorine are stock characters that could have come out of any romance novel.

Victorine makes me wish Keyes had decided to write mysteries instead of romances.

By Frances Parkinson Keyes
Julian Messner, 1958
288 pages
My grade: C+
© 2007 Linda Gorton Aragoni