TITLE: Secret Eh-gent
GENRE: Commercial fiction
This is the beginning of chapter one:
Sfeff was sitting in a sidewalk café in the tenth arrondissement the first time he saw the man, and right away he knew something was off. From the way the man walked and dressed, he was clearly not from the tenth, the home of immigrants, dreary commercial zones, and porn shops. Yet he didn’t have any of the tourist props, like a shopping bag or a camera. And in a Paris neighborhood of decaying nineteenth-century apartments and graffiti-covered public housing, the man was wearing a navy blazer, a white oxford shirt, and beige slacks. His clothes, his graying hair and his round glasses made him look like a lawyer, Sfeff thought. Or a guy asking to be mugged.
But the man looked so relaxed, he could have been strolling the left bank. He crossed the street and approached the café. When he was a few steps away, he asked Sfeff, “Excuse me, are you American?”
Sfeff thought it over. He was American. Also Canadian. But admitting either was risky nowadays—especially after what the Americans had just done. While he decided on an answer, he looked at the man again. On a day threatening rain, the man didn’t have a jacket or an umbrella. What was he doing on a dingy side street in a bad neighborhood? Was he gay, and trolling for sex? An ex-girlfriend’s irate father? The man fit none of those descriptions. And that bothered him.