And they told me time travel was not possible!
Guess who’s having the last laugh, because I just traveled to 18th century France, witnessed not one, but two murders, and what’s more? Voltaire was there! The same Voltaire about whom I had only read in my History text book.
Genre: Crime, Historical Fiction, Murder Mystery
Voltaire discovers a body in the woods just outside of the Cirey estate on the day that his lover Madame du Chatelet was due to arrive at the Chateau, after he had renovated the place. A member of the Marechaussee, Cavalier Victor Constant is cursing the fact that he has been transferred to Champagne, where he believes crimes would never take place. However, it is he who investigates the murder and strongly believes Voltaire is involved. Whomever he questions refuses to give him satisfactory answers; moreover, people simply do not seem to care about the deceased Damien Moiron. Eventually, he learns at least two women seemed to be in love with him, and one of them hints to him that he must look for “Hatred, jealousy, revenge.” While he is convinced more than ever than Voltaire is involved in the murder, he is informed that a man has been arrested as the murderer of Moiron. Investigations and interrogations lead the cavalier to believe the accused is innocent. He is attacked by a magistrate’s helper (Niort) and an accomplice, but Niort is soon found murdered too. The cavalier cannot reveal the details of his attack, as that would implicate him in the crime.
That’s about as much as I can tell you without giving out any spoilers.
Characters: After you get over the initial excitement of seeing Voltaire in a work of fiction, you learn it is entirely Victor Constant who carries it on his shoulders. He is like the good old detective who rarely makes an appearance in books today. Voltaire is described as aloof, at times arrogant, at times kind, and towards Emilie, a perfect partner. The description of Louis Aubert, the wrongly accused murderer is rather pitiable. My heart went out to the poor, poor man.
Pace: In my opinion, it could have been a tad more fast-paced. The current pace does not harm it in anyway, but that’s just what I felt.
Writing style: If I gave you this book without its cover and without any information about who wrote it and when it was written, you would believe it was really written in the eighteenth century. If I told you otherwise, you would refuse to believe me. So perfect is the depiction of France, the sights and sounds come alive in the book. As I said at the beginning of this review – this book is a time machine!
Fans of Agatha Christie and historical mysteries would not want to miss this one. It is the first of the Victor Constant Mysteries. Let’s hope for a revival of the crime investigator in fiction!
Kindle copy/Paperback are available here.
Note: An ebook copy was sent to me by the author for review. Thank you, Cheryl.