||November 23, 2010
Paris, 1793: At the height of the Reign of Terror, police agent Aristide Ravel must hunt down a ruthless killer who is leaving decapitated corpses across the city.
Barnes & Noble.com
Louis XVI is in his grave, and Marie-Antoinette is on her way to trial. Paris is hungry, restless, and fearful in the autumn of 1793, and the guillotine’s blade is beginning to fall daily on the necks of enemies of the French Republic. Not even members of the Republican government are safe from the threat of the Revolutionary Tribunal, where the only sentence for the guilty is death.
In this atmosphere of distrust and anxiety, police agent Ravel, while coming to terms with personal tragedy, must stop a ruthless killer who is terrorizing the city. Ravel soon learns, however, that hunting a murderer who strikes at random and leaves headless corpses on the streets, paralleling the ever more numerous victims of the guillotine, is a task that will lead him to dark, painful secrets and echoes from an even darker past.
From the author of The Cavalier of the Apocalypse, A Treasury of Regrets, and Game of Patience comes the fourth Aristide Ravel mystery, unfolding amid the bloody events and murderous politics of the Reign of Terror.
At the height of the Reign of Terror in 1793, an unknown killer is emulating the work of the guillotine by leaving beheaded corpses all over Paris in Alleyn's superior fourth Aristide Ravel mystery (after 2009's The Cavalier of the Apocalypse). Given the tight control of the republican government, the police don't realize that the deaths are part of a series, but eventually former justice minister Georges Danton asks Ravel to solve the case. With delicate peace negotiations with the English under way, Danton fears that word of the atrocities will jeopardize them. The pressure to catch the killer only increases as the roster of victims expands to include a member of the government. Alleyn brilliantly captures the paranoid spirit of the times, and inserts enough twists to keep most readers guessing. This entry approaches the quality of the historical fiction of such authors as Steven Saylor and Laura Joh Rowland.
Alleyn's fourth takes readers back in time to Aristide Ravel's second major case, during the Terror after the French Revolution.
In 1793, Paris saw many headless corpses, enemies of the Republic swiftly dispatched by the guillotine. The body found in an alley and brought to investigator Ravel is different: a luckless whore brutally hacked apart, her head nowhere to be found. The Revolution turned all of France upside down: The Palais-Royal became the Palais-Égalité and Queen Marie-Antoinette the widow Capet. Now the Revolution itself is starting to turn, as beggars are decapitated and well-meaning Republicans tried for traitors--among them Mathieu Alexandre, Ravel's dearest boyhood friend. Even as the real enemies of the Republic, monarchist agitators and deposed aristocrats, are rallying Britain against France, Ravel hopes that Mathieu will be found innocent. He suspects that the provocateurs may even stoop to grisly murder to undermine the new regime. As the headless bodies mount across all classes and neighborhoods of Paris, Ravel, with the help of imprisoned Mathieu, closes in on the killer. But some of the murders don't fit the pattern. Has personal greed or vengeance swamped political conviction?
A fiendishly clever and compelling mystery set in a grim, gripping vision of Paris where there is no justice, only shades of gray.
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