Monday, August 22, 2011
The Black Tower - A Book Review
I love a good historical mystery, especially if the author has successfully recreated the era in which the story takes place. The Black Tower by Louis Bayard is just such a book . Dr. Hector Carpentier is drawn into a web of intrigue when his address is found on a note in the pocket of a murder victim. Carpentier doesn’t know Henri LeClerc—yet. But when Paris detective Vidocq shows up at his door, he is about to find out who the deceased is. Vidocq is the master of disguise, and he needs every one if he is to find out if Louis Charles, the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, survived the abuse and neglect of his guards in the Temple’s Black Tower during the French Revolution. Because if he did, he is France's rightful king.
Although it is 1818, the setting is medieval Paris before Baron Haussmann razed much of the city to create its wide boulevards for Emperor Napoleon III. The buildings are covered with centuries of grime, and the roads are little more than alleys housing Paris’s least desirable elements. But at the center of the story is the Black Tower where the ill-fated king and queen of France spent their final days with their children. Although it has been torn down on the orders of the now deposed Napoleon, the memory of what took place within its stone walls haunts those living in the early years of the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy.
This is a crack mystery that grabs you from the first chapter and doesn’t let go until you find out if the Dauphin, the heir to the French throne, survived his ordeal or if it ended with his body being thrown into an unmarked grave.