Synopses & Reviews
Vidocq. The name strikes terror in the Parisian underworld of 1818. As founder and chief of a newly created plainclothes police force, Vidocq has used his mastery of disguise and surveillance to capture some of France's most notorious and elusive criminals. Now he is hot on the trail of a tantalizing mystery — the fate of the young dauphin Louis-Charles, son of Marie-Antoinette and King Louis XVI.
Hector Carpentier, a medical student, lives with his widowed mother in her once-genteel home, now a boardinghouse, in Paris's Latin Quarter, helping the family make ends meet in the politically perilous days of the restoration. Three blocks away, a man has been murdered, and Hectors name has been found on a scrap of paper in the dead man's pocket: a case for the unparalleled deductive skills of Eugène François Vidocq, the most feared man in the Paris police. At first suspicious of Hector's role in the murder, Vidocq gradually draws him into an exhilarating — and dangerous — search that leads them to the true story of what happened to the son of the murdered royal family.
Officially, the Dauphin died a brutal death in Paris's dreaded Temple — a menacing black tower from which there could have been no escape — but speculation has long persisted that the ten-year-old heir may have been smuggled out of his prison cell. When Hector and Vidocq stumble across a man with no memory of who he is, they begin to wonder if he is the Dauphin himself, come back from the dead. Their suspicions deepen with the discovery of a diary that reveals Hector's own shocking link to the boy in the tower — and leaves him bound and determined to see justice done, no matter the cost.
In The Black Tower, Bayard deftly interweaves political intrigue, epic treachery, cover-ups, and conspiracies into a gripping portrait of family redemption — and brings to life an indelible portrait of the mighty and profane Eugène François Vidocq, history's first great detective.
"A compelling and sympathetic narrator instantly draws the reader into Bayard's stellar third historical. In 1818, the notorious Vidocq, a master detective who's rumored to work on both sides of the law, pulls 26-year-old Parisian doctor Hector Carpentier into a torture-murder inquiry. The victim, Chrtien Leblanc, died without revealing that he was on his way to visit Carpentier, news that comes as a complete shock to the doctor, as the dead man was a stranger to him. Vidocq soon discovers that Leblanc was actually in search of Carpentier's late father, who bore the same name. The elder Carpentier cared for Louis-Charles, Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette's young son, who died in prison in 1795. Bayard keeps the reader guessing until the end, though the puzzle aspect is less prominent than in his previous novel, The Pale Blue Eye, which featured Edgar Allan Poe as sleuth. Few writers today can match the author's skill in devising an intelligent thriller with heart. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] delicious new historical mystery....[Bayard] manages to imbue his characters with real soul. You may find yourself, more than two centuries after the fact, aching over the fate of the pitiful young Dauphin. (Grade: A-)" Entertainment Weekly
"The novel's witty succession of trapdoor endings...keeps surprising us long after it seems Bayard's plot has nowhere else to go. Who says they don't write 'em like this anymore? Long may Bayard reign." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Bayard's well-crafted mix of history and suspense keeps this novel from getting bogged down in historical trivia. Recommended." Library Journal
The acclaimed author of Mr. Timothy and The Pale Blue Eye has constructed another spellbinding historical mystery about a real-life convict who transformed himself into the world's first modern detective.
From Louis Bayard, the acclaimed author of Mr. Timothy and The Pale Blue Eye, comes The Black Tower, a stunning and pitch-perfect novel featuring the real-life criminal who transformed himself into the worlds first and greatest detective. In The Black Tower, Bayard deftly interweaves political intrigue, epic treachery, cover-ups, and conspiracies into a gripping portrait of family redemption—and brings to life an indelible portrait of the mighty and profane Eugène François Vidocq, historys legendary investigator.
About the Author
Louis Bayard is the author of the national bestseller The Pale Blue Eye and Mr. Timothy, a New York Times Notable book. A staff writer for Salon.com, Bayard has written articles and reviews for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Nerve.com, and Preservation, among others. Bayard lives in Washington, D.C.