Synopses & Reviews
At the height of the Belle Epoque, François Dubon leads a well-ordered life in the bourgeois quarters of Paris’ eighth arrondissement. When not busy with his prosperous legal practice, he enjoys both a contented marriage to his aristocratic wife, Geneviève, and satisfying afternoon encounters with his mistress, Madeleine. He is never late for those five o’clock appointments nor for family dinner at seven—until a mysterious widow comes to his office with an unusual request.
The lady insists that only Dubon can save her innocent friend, an Army captain named Dreyfus who was convicted of spying and exiled to Devil’s Island two years earlier. Not wishing to disappoint the alluring widow, the gallant Dubon makes some perfunctory inquiries. But when he discovers the existence of a secret military file withheld from the defense during the trial, he embarks on an obsessive pursuit of justice that upends his complacent life.
Donning a borrowed military uniform, Dubon goes undercover into the murky world of counterespionage, where his erratic hours alarm his forbidding wife and make his mistress increasingly aloof. As the layers of deceit and double crosses mount, Dubon’s quixotic quest leads him into the heart of a dark conspiracy—one that endangers his own life and threatens to throw France herself into turmoil.
Based on the infamous Dreyfus Affair and enriched with a generous dose of classic noir, A Man in Uniform is a gripping and seductive mystery set against the gilded years of late nineteenth-century Paris.
"The Dreyfus affair gets a fictional reassessment through a small cast of bourgeois Parisians in a wheezy evocation of belle epoque social conventions. Agatha Christie style plotting comes quickly to the fore: a mysterious, alluring female client entreats solidly middle-class attorney FranÃ§ois Dubon to pursue an appeal for Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, who was sent to the Devil's Island penal colony after a questionable 1894 treason trial. Dubon is intrigued, to the point of neglecting his marriage, his mistress, and his clients, and impersonating a military intelligence clerk to evaluate the government's case against the Jewish artilleryman convicted of passing secrets to the Germans. The appeal becomes consuming, in a mannered fashion, as Dubon engages with pseudonymous journalists and an incongruous English private detective, and tracks down justice for his client at great cost to his settled routines and relationships. But while the salons and afternoon assignations are faithfully depicted, the plot twists are laboriously telegraphed, and the overall micro focus fails to convey the larger sense of such a pivotal moment in French history. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
The author of "Madame Proust and the Kosher Kitchen" artfully mixes mystery and history in this page-turning journey through 19th-century Parisian society, in which nothing is as it seems.
“An awfully enjoyable romp. Taylor writes clearly and transparently, leaving nothing to abstraction. The book moves along at such an admirable clip that it’s hard to believe it won’t carry on without you if you dare put it down.”
“A literate thriller.…Today, the Dreyfus Affair continues to serve as a bracing reminder …that we dare not have blind faith in the willingness of our leaders to defend our most cherished rights and freedoms. Taylor’s engaging novel, in creating a detailed historical world, reminds us of that ever-present danger.”
—Globe and Mail
“Taylor’s twisting plot is rich in romance and disturbing in its implications about the fragility of human rights.”