The Black Tower
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 mysterythe 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 Hector's name has been found on a scrap of paper in the dead man's pocket: a case for the unparalleled deductive skills of Eugéne 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 exhilaratingand dangeroussearch 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 Templea menacing black tower from which there could have been no escapebut 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 towerand 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 redemptionand brings to life an indelible portrait of the mighty and profane Eugéne François Vidocq, history's first great detective.
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The Black Tower
William Morrow, hardcover (August 2008), ISBN-10: 0061173509
Harper Perennial, paperback (October 2009), ISBN-13: 978-0061173516
"Few writers today can match the author's skill in devising an intelligent thriller with heart."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Who says they don't write 'em like this anymore? Long may Bayard reign."
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Louis Bayard repairs to Paris for another daring historical adventure. Bayard makes brilliant application of Vidocq in the fanciful adventure. No snatch-and-run researcher, Bayard takes care to capture Vidocq's roguish voice and grandiose affectations."
New York Times Book Review
"Delicious. [Bayard] imbues(s) his characters with real soul."
"Weaves history and fiction together in the trademark stylelinguistic brio, a slickly unfolding plot, a raft of colorful charactersthat has propelled Bayard's work into the upper reaches of the historical-thriller league."
The Washington Post
"Louis Bayard is a master at blending history into intelligent thrillers."