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A Man in Uniform: A Novel Paperback – January 24, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (January 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307885208
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307885203
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,548,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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 François 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.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Though Taylor (Madame Proust and the Kosher Kitchen, 2004) uses the Dreyfus affair, which rocked France at the end of the nineteenth century, as her foundation, Dreyfus himself barely appears in this novel. Instead, the central character is Parisian lawyer Francois Dubon, whose carefully regulated life (rendezvous with mistress each weekday at five, home for dinner with wife at seven) gets a bit more exciting when he receives a visit from an attractive, mysterious widow. She asks him to look for proof that Dreyfus is innocent of treason, and at her instigation Dubon dons a military uniform and insinuates himself into the army’s Statistical (i.e., counterespionage) Section as a file clerk. As he gets closer to the truth, his life is upended, and high-level cover-ups are revealed. A compelling novel could be written about l’affaire Dreyfus, but this isn’t it. Instead, it’s a reasonably entertaining period piece with deftly rendered details (how would one photograph secret documents in 1896?) and a dash of mystery to help make up for several improbable plot twists. --Mary Ellen Quinn --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By S. Schwartz on August 20, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
I received this book as an Early Reviewer Book from the publisher but I think it is in publication now and available. I highly recommend the book. Ms. Taylor is an excellent author and her characterizations are flawless. The book is set in early 19 Century France and she really captures that period. Yes, the book is fiction, but she melds fiction and history so very well. The book is a mix of detective story, spy novel and historical fiction. The espionage side of the story is handled very well. Ms. Taylor manages to keep the suspense up and the mystery complex enough to make it interesting. It has been awhile since I have read a book as remarkable as this one and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I liked it so much that I have ordered her first novel - "Mme Proust and the Kosher Kitchen". Thank you to the publishers (Doubleday Canada) for leading me to a new author - one that I hope to enjoy for some time to come.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By prairie woman on May 5, 2012
Format: Paperback
This was a cleverly written fictional account based on the Dreyfus affair, mainly a captain who was accused of spying for the Germans during the Franco-Prussian War. He was sent to Devil's Island for a life's sentence. Francois Dubon is a successful, well married attorney who deals mostly with estate planning, etc. He's approached by this mysterious woman who claims that Captain Dreyfus is innocent and asks him to look into the case. Dubon decides to help her and proceeds to infiltrate the military intelligence department posing as an officer. This plot gets a little crazy and unbelievable as Dubon is able to convince the senior officers that he is a lowly clerk and gets away with this disguise. Then there is the German spy connection where a cleaning lady passes on papers taken from a wastebasket and gives them to Dubon to sort out. That seems a bit unbelievable but it makes for an interesting aside as Dubon tries to find the Dreyfus file in a great disorganized mess of papers that are filed in a not so orthodox way. There is a lot of going back and forth, to the lawyer's office, visits to the mistress, being home on time for dinner, and changing from uniform to civilian dress. Of course it happens that Madame Dubon's brother is a military man so this is where the uniform comes from as the brother happens to be staying at their home. There are a few murders that take place and all of this is connected to trying to keep the question of the innocence of Dreyfus quiet. Dubon finds that this woman is not as she seems and who is she really? A concerned widow? Madame Dreyfus? Or someone else? Dubon also discovers that he cannot trust anyone even those deemed as close friends. This is a well thought out story with a lot of madcap scenes going on that make it kind of fun as well as wanting to read more.
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By L.I. LINDA on January 17, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
my kindle choices are almost always thrilers and classic literature.ms taylor's book caught my eye because of its connection with the dreyfus affair.it reads like a public broadcasting program.i loved the characters and the mystery.i highly recommend it.
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By C. Macauley on November 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed Kate Taylor's novel about a French lawyer who decides to do some undercover work to search for evidence that will prove the innocence of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, the artillery officer condemned to life imprisonment in 1894 for a crime he didn't commit. François Dubon has a small law practice and has settled into a comfortable life with a family, a mistress and no real ambitions. One day a mysterious woman in black engages his services to help her appeal Dreyfus' unjust conviction. Dubon is only vaguely aware of the case--even though it nearly tore France apart--and is unsure that any such evidence exists. Gradually he begins to uncover a trail of blunders and cover-ups that persuade him to dig even deeper, risking his career and even his life in the process.

The best thing about this book is Dubon himself, a self-centered and venal attorney, whose transformation into a hero is at first improbable but by the end becomes central to the story. His interest in the case forces him to forgo his accustomed pleasures, angering both mistress and wife, but providing him with a sudden goal in a life that had been fatuous and vapid. Taylor does this with an extremely subtle sense of humor, so that one almost doesn't appreciate the absurdity of Dubon's situation when he disguises himself and pretends to be a clerk in the Statistical Bureau, the counter-intelligence agency of the French military.

I also liked Taylor's lucid and understated prose, which made it easy to follow a complex story in a place and time with which I am unfamiliar. No breathtaking panoramas or poetic metaphors, rather a story told so convincingly that it took hold of my attention and kept me wondering what would happen next.
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