||St. Martin's Press
||April 17, 2007
Police agent Aristide Ravel comes to the aid of a servant girl accused of poisoning her employer in 18th-century Paris.
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For police agent and investigator Aristide Ravel, the teeming streets and alleyways of Paris are a constant source of activity. And in the unruly climate of 1797, when gold and food are scarce, citizens will stop at very little to get what they need.
When Jeannette Moineau, an illiterate servant girl, is accused of poisoning the master of the house where she works, Ravel cannot believe she is guilty of the crime. With stubborn witnesses, a mysterious white powder, and stolen goods all stacked against her, however, he knows it will not be easy to clear her of the charges. But he finds an unexpected ally in Laurence, a young widow of the house, whose past surprisingly intersects his own.
In a large household brimming with bickering and resentment, everyone seems to have a motive for poisoning old Martin Dupont. But as more family members begin to turn up dead, the list of suspects rapidly dwindles. Tensions rise and Ravel and Laurence must probe the secrets of the city’s crafty politicians and confidence artists for clues to clear Jeannette’s name. Finding information, though, in dissolute post-revolutionary Paris, can lead to costly and dangerous demands.
Since the twenty-fourth of Frimaire, Aristide Ravel had dreamed at least a dozen times of the guillotine.
from Library Journal
In the aftermath of so much death and destruction, postrevolutionary Paris struggles to recover, but people are poor, food is scarce, and freelance police investigator Aristide Ravel (Game of Patience) finds work where he can. At the house of wealthy Martin Dupont, Ravel must sort out the reason someone poisoned the family dinner, an act that led to Monsieur Dupont's demise. The Duponts all have reasons to hate the senior Dupont, but the police have arrested illiterate servant girl Jeannette Moineau in the face of what appears to be overwhelming evidence of her guilt. Alleyn skillfully depicts her characters' flaws and strengths while plotting a fine puzzle mystery. If your patrons enjoy historicals and have not yet discovered Alleyn, put her latest on the must-read list.
(Starred review; also on Library Journal's list of the best genre fiction of 2007)
from Publishers Weekly
The chaotic days following the French Revolution form the backdrop for this absorbing sequel to 2006's Game of Patience, Alleyn's third novel, in which police spy Aristide Ravel and Commissaire Brasseur explore the various motives and opportunities of the Dupont family after their patriarch is poisoned. The late Monsieur Dupont's widowed daughter-in-law enlists the two Paris policemen when the family's servant girl, Jeannette Moineau, is accused of the poisoning—a charge Mademoiselle Dupont considers absurd. The investigation moves forward, but another death soon follows. With a light, literate hand, Alleyn includes a wealth of detail about life in France during the Republican period, while ratcheting up the tension with every chapter. Fans of Charles O'Brien (Mute Witness) and Baroness Orczy (The Scarlet Pimpernel) will be delighted.
from The Washington Times
The arrest of a Paris kitchen maid, for the poisoning of wealthy Martin Dupont, owner of the house where she works, is the simple yet effective introduction to Susanne Alleyn's A Treasury of Regrets, an 18th-century mystery embellished by the drama of France's tumultuous post-revolution years. In a society still shadowed by the guillotine and haunted by its victims, mundane crime and punishment remain an issue.
Aristide Ravel is cast as a forerunner of the 20th century's laconic and lachrymose detective, a freelance investigator for the Paris police who finds that the poisoning of Dupont is rooted in a family's resentment and revenge, complicated by an intricate mesh of relationships upstairs and downstairs.
Ms. Alleyn skillfully portrays a household of suspects where crimes multiply while the unfortunate and innocent servant girl lies in a squalid jail cell. In the course of an investigation that takes him into hidden and forbidden corners of Parisian society, Ravel has to cope with revelations of his own past, and he is forced to relive the horror of the days when thousands of heads fell to the guillotine.
The author captures the atmosphere of a nation struggling toward a social and political unity untainted by the irrational violence and cruelty of those who toppled the monarchy. Ravel is a realistic and appealing observer of a developing society.
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