Historical Fiction: The Dark Tower, by Louis Bayard

5.0 out of 5 stars Tour de force

It has generally been accepted that the son of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI was murdered shortly after the executions of his parents. Now, more than 200 years later, Louis Bayard has taken another look at the fate of the dauphin. Could he have been saved? Could he have lived to become and adult? Bayard’s tour de force of a mystery suggests that it’s a possibility. The detective in this adventure is Vidoqc, the legendary criminal become law enforcer, master of disguise, wit and bon vivant. The unwitting Doctor Hector Carpentier, who feels he could never fill the shoes of his recently deceased father, an MD before him, is dragged unwilling into Vidoqc’s investigation of the murder of a man he’s never heard of. And it isn’t long before Hector is convinced that something is rotten in restoration Paris. The Black Tower presents a credible theory about what might have become of Prince Charles Louis. The plot is driven by the swashbuckling Vidocq, whose panache and daring are matched only by his Victorian soulmate, Sherlock Holmes. While the novel has its dark passages, especially when dealing with the real events of the French Revolution, it balances the grimness with sharp edged humor and nonstop action. Picture the old amusement park ride, Laugh in the Dark. This is reading at its best.

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