The Paris Widow – A Vacation Turns Deadly

As a flight attendant, Stella became a world traveler, knowing the best restaurants, the hidden sights, and shops that are off-the-beaten track. Although her husband, Adam, an antiques dealer, travels himself, he doesn’t know cities the way Stella does. Now married for three years, Adam wants to take a trip with Stella, seeing major cities and small towns through her eyes. 

In Paris, Adam conducts some business, meeting Antoine who operates an antiques shop. Afterwards, Stella takes Adam to one of her favorite restaurants where they enjoy a variety of galettes, flat pancakes topped with various fruits or vegetables. On the way back to their hotel, Adam notices that he left his sunglasses at the restaurant. Telling her to go on while he runs back to pick them up, Stella is nearly to their hotel when an explosion rocks the square she’s in. Running back towards the restaurant, the sidewalks are filled with bodies, many dead, others injured. 

There’s no sign of Adam.

The more Stella tries to find out about what happened to Adam, the more she realizes she didn’t really know her husband. Officials from the local police as well as the American Embassy tell her that Adam was selling stolen artworks to wealthy patrons. These “blood antiques,” she’s told, often are looted from countries in the midst of war. She’s also told, much to her horror, that Adam was the target of the bomb. That her husband might have caused the deaths of so many people horrifies Stella.

The hotel manager, sympathetic to Stella’s situation, tells her she can stay without being charged until she finds out what happened to Adam. That, at least, gives her some freedom to continue to search for Adam, while also trying to clear his name. Going through his computer she finds nothing incriminating. There’s also nothing hidden in his suitcase. But going through his backpack, she finds a gold ring sewn into the lining. There’s an inscription – OFOFWW=RRH to WWW. She has no idea what the initials mean, but she does know from the weight of the ring that’s it’s valuable. Is what she’s being told about Adam’s business true? Was he an international thief?

Stella manages to find Antoine, hoping he can shed some light on what Adam was doing in Paris. But when Antoine sees the ring, he grabs her arm and demands she give it to him, offering 50,000 pounds. Stella turns him down and barely escapes from his shop. 

Then more Stella learns, the more danger she finds herself in. The old mantra “trust no one,” resonates, but Stella is as stubborn as some of the people chasing her. And leaving Paris without finding out what happened to Adam is unacceptable. In desperation, she reaches out to someone from her past, an old lover who is powerful, but dangerous. He also, she knows, will do anything for her. But can he save her and Adam?

Trafficking in stolen artwork has become a huge business, with even some reputable museums purchasing pieces whose provenance is murky. It’s well know that some of the most valuable paintings and sculptures now missing have found their way into private collections where they remain untouchable. Kimberly Belle taps into this underworld with expertise and finesse. She doesn’t indulge in fantasies, making Stella into a superwoman who can outsmart or out battle the enemies. She’s smart and brave, but also in love with her husband and unwilling to accept the title of “The Paris Widow.”

A terrific page-turning read. 

The Paris Widow
Kimberley Belle

Top photo: Bigstock

About Charlene Giannetti (706 Articles)
Charlene Giannetti, editor of Woman Around Town, is the recipient of seven awards from the New York Press Club for articles that have appeared on the website. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Charlene began her career working for a newspaper in Pennsylvania, then wrote for several publications in Washington covering environment and energy policy. In New York, she was an editor at Business Week magazine and her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines. She is the author of 13 non-fiction books, eight for parents of young adolescents written with Margaret Sagarese, including "The Roller-Coaster Years," "Cliques," and "Boy Crazy." She and Margaret have been keynote speakers at many events and have appeared on the Today Show, CBS Morning, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many others. Her last book, "The Plantations of Virginia," written with Jai Williams, was published by Globe Pequot Press in February, 2017. Her podcast, WAT-CAST, interviewing men and women making news, is available on Soundcloud and on iTunes. She is one of the producers for the film "Life After You," focusing on the opioid/heroin crisis that had its premiere at WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, where it won two awards. The film is now available to view on Amazon Prime, YouTube, and other services. Charlene and her husband live in Manhattan.