Visiting the Louvre had been on my list of dream destinations since age sixteen. That was when I first saw Sherlock Holmes recover the Mona Lisa, stolen from the Louvre, before going on the run from Professor Moriarty. Therefore, my connections to the famed building were conclusively linked to the mysterious.
I didn’t, however, expect to be accused of theft on my very first visit!
My excitement could scarcely be contained as I skipped past the glass pyramid and walked up the steps to the beautiful old building. That building made my trip worth it even without seeing the outside, it was so magnificent, but I didn’t have much time to consider it. The moment I stepped inside the building, two members of the French Police marched up to me, pulling me aside for questioning.
Their accents were strong, but I could understand them fairly well. They demanded to know my name and the reason for my visit. I told them that I was just a tourist, though I might be considering writing a mystery set in Paris. I think it was the wrong thing to say.
“A mystery? A theft, perhaps?” The first officer crossed his arms.
I shrugged. “That or a murder. I don’t really know. Maybe both. But a theft seems likely.”
“A theft of, say, the portrait of a Russian Princess, perhaps?”
I blinked. That seemed awfully precise. “I’m sorry?”
“We already know about you. We’ve read your blog.” The second officer had seemed more approachable, until he started speaking. “You posted that you were on your way to Paris two days ago, that among your plans while in our city that you planned to visit the Louvre, and that you were especially interested, among other things, to see the portrait of the Russian Princess.”
“Is… Is that a crime?” I looked from one officer to another.
“It is, if your interest led you to steal the portrait instead of merely observing it.”
I have never done well at responding when shocked. I lose all sense of words. Thus, I only started at the two men with my mouth hanging open.
The officers waited in silence with me. Obviously, they expected a response. I tried to think.
“When… When did the Russian Princess get stolen?”
The second officer narrowed his eyes at me, but the first one dropped his arms. “Last night. In the dead of night, someone stole the painting and disappeared. Undetected. You expressed interest in the Russian Princess.”
“I didn’t steal her!” I took a deep breath and lowered my voice. “I wouldn’t know how to get into the Louvre without detection, even if I wanted to. Not by day or by night. And I didn’t want to!”
The two officers nodded at me. “We understand, Mademoiselle.” The first officer spoke smoothly. “You must understand, however, that you must be high on our list of suspects.”
“How did you even know about my blog? I’m anything but famous!”
“Someone tipped us off.” The officer shook his head. “No, I can’t tell you who.”
I bit my lip.
“Are you implying that you can tell us nothing else about the theft, Mademoiselle Jones?”
“I can’t tell you anything at all, except that I didn’t do it.”
The second officer seemed to soften. “And yet, we will need to keep contact with you for the time being.” He pulled out a notebook. “Would you, please, give us your phone number – the best way to contact you?”
“Another question, Mademoiselle.” The first officer cocked his head. “Do you know anyone else in town, who might be interested in the Russian Princess?”
“I’m sure she wouldn’t steal it!”
“Then you do.” His partner smiled. “Supply us with her name, if you please. I assure you, if she is as innocent as you think, she has nothing to fear.”
I wanted to refuse, but I didn’t now how wise it would be, so I complied. “I don’t actually know if she is here, but I know she said something about visiting to see the portrait of the Russian Princess again. At least, I think she’s seen it before. After all, she put it in her new book! She’s the one who got me interested!”
The men gave each other a look. “The name, if you please, Mademoiselle Jones.”
I shook my head. “Liz. Liz Tolsma.”
I hope they aren’t too hard on her. What could I have done besides give her name? I really don’t know. Maybe I can make it up to her a bit, by showing you the GIVEAWAY for her new mystery, Slashed Canvas…