- File Size: 1040 KB
- Print Length: 433 pages
- Publisher: Gallic Books (October 14, 2010)
- Publication Date: October 14, 2010
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0078XG5RY
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #861,027 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Digital List Price:||$11.99|
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The Saint-Florentin murders: The Nicolas Le Floch Investigations (A Nicolas Le Floch Investigation) Kindle Edition
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They are more than murder mysteries, however. They are first rate historical fiction that involve espionage, court politics at Versailles, cooking, literature and most of all the dirty, filthy, downtrodden, glorious and beautiful city of Paris in the twilight of the ancien régime. As much as any of the human characters, Paris is a central character. Talleyrand once said that he who did not live in the years before the Revolution cannot understand the sweetness of living (presumably if one were of the aristocracy) and Parot's novels capture some of that, as well as hints of the rising maelstrom that eventually led to the Revolution.
Another central character is cooking, and the characters indulge in long descriptions of food and how it was prepared without it sounding silly. Prepare to be hungry!
In these books there are few of the anachronisms that seem to plague so much historical fiction except the rare issue I suspect comes from these being translations, such as referring to smoothbore muskets as rifles.
Of course it being a police procedural, we see what detective work would have encompassed in 18th Century Paris, including the casual use of torture, or at least the threat of it (with an actual torture chamber) to elicit confessions—as well as a growing sense confessions gained through it don't always work. And of course there are the difficulties in solving crimes without any of the advantages we have today.
The first book starts in 1761 at the tail-end of the Seven Years War with the main character, Nicolas le Floch, a youth from the provinces come to Paris to make his way. He is the illegitimate son of a marquis whose title he eventually inherits, though he shows hesitance in using it except when at Versailles or to throw his weight around with aristocrats during an investigation. I am assuming that that hesitance will save his life in the Revolution, if the series goes that far.
Through the novels he grows in confidence and competence, earning the trust of his boss Sartine, the lieutenant general of police, and eventually of Louis XV and Madame Pompadour, who receive a somewhat more sympathetic treatment than they receive elsewhere in fiction, and to whom he becomes a loyal courtier. He even gets sent on a mission to England and in book 6, which I have not read yet, he goes to Vienna as a spy. The police of the era were quite versatile it seems. The death and funeral of Louis XV in book 4 is quite touching, as is the reaction of the loyal courtiers, now left on the sidelines literally at the the tomb of the old king as the new court leaves them in the dust of a new era.
In the present book, all of Nicolas' skills are put to the test. It is in the first year of Louis XVI's reign and a murder is committed at a King's minister's house. Nicolas, who was out of favor under the new king being considered “old court,” is brought back to the limelight to investigate it and three related murders. It has all the hallmarks of the previous books as Nicolas unpeels the layers of corrupt and decadent upper class Parisian society to get to the truth while at the same time jockeying for position within the court at Versailles. The seedy side of Paris, especially brothels, always plays a role in these novels but is central to this one, as is sex trafficking, the orgies and sexual mores of some French aristocrats.
The supporting characters are just as strong, including the working class inspector Bourdeau, Nicolas' best friend whose wry observations on the corruption at the top serve as a balance to Nicolas' loyalty to the regime. At times his foreshadowing gets tiresome, especially in this book, as we know what's coming 15 years down the road, but only a little tiresome.
The executioner, Sanson, who was a real person and eventually was tasked with killing Louis XVI, is another major character and friend of Nicolas, plays the role of coroner.
Pick these novels up, you won't regret it. If you've read the previous books, snatch this one up.
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