Friday, September 5, 2008

Review: The Black Tower by Louis Bayard


Restoration Paris, 1818. It has been over twenty years since the Revolution, Napoleon is in exile and the Bourbon kings are back on the throne of France. But the past still echoes...

Hector Carpentier is an ordinary medical student living at home with his mother, where she takes in boarders to help make ends meet. He is suddenly thrust into a murder investigation when detective Eugene Francois Vidocq turns up on his doorstep. It seems Hector's name has been found on a piece of paper that was concealed on a dead body. Hector has never seen or heard of the victim before. He is at a loss to explain why the man might have had his name and been at pains to hide it.

Before he knows what's happening, he is swept along with Vidocq and into a case that has the potential to shake France to its core. The evidence points to a conspiracy to kill a simple, quiet young man who lives in the country and who just might be the heir to the throne of France, Louis-Charles.

During the Revolution, Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI were both killed. Their two children, Marie-Therese-Charlotte and Louis-Charles were imprisoned in the Black Tower. Marie was eventually released but Louis-Charles died in prison. Or did he? The rumors have always circulated that he might have escaped and impostors have turned up before. But this young man has no memory of his early life and does not claim to be the lost prince. Someone believes he is, though, and they are intent on his death. It is up to Vidocq and Hector to unravel the mystery and protect the unassuming, fragile young man.

Louis Bayard paints a fascinating picture of the little-known real life detective, Vidocq. The world's first real police detective, he had a background in crime and had been imprisoned in his youth. He knew the criminal mind from personal experience and was able to use his knowledge to become an extremely successful detective. To me he seemed to be a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Columbo because of his flair for disguise and his gruff demeanor. Restoration Paris is likewise brought to life brilliantly. This book is a wonderful historical adventure.

The Black Tower is published by William Morrow. ISBN 978-0-06-117350-9


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5 comments:

S. Krishna said...

I've been curious about this book since I saw it in Borders the other day - great review!

rob said...

Sounds interesting. I read Pale Blue Eye a little while ago and enjoyed that, so I might have to give this one a try.

The Tome Traveller said...

I actually have Pale Blue Eye sitting in my TBR pile. I really want to get to it since I enjoyed this one so much!

tashiana said...

this one looks pretty cool
i like that he's framed but then he has to adventure his way out of it lol
ur book reviews always spark my memory! i'm thinkin anastsia

Becca said...

I just read about Vidocq in The Crimes of Paris. It would be very interesting to see how this book portrays him.

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New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.