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The Black Tower by Louis Bayard
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The Black Tower (original 2008; edition 2008)

by Louis Bayard

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6445014,998 (3.83)129
Member:swatmaker
Title:The Black Tower
Authors:Louis Bayard
Info:William Morrow (2008), Hardcover, 368 pages
Collections:Your library, Books Read in 2012
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, 20th century, literature-American, mystery, adventure, fiction-historical, Have read

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The Black Tower by Louis Bayard (2008)

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Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
I really liked this book. It started off slightly boring, but it surprised me in the end.
Yup, I liked it. That's about all I have to say about it. ( )
  imahorcrux | Jun 22, 2016 |
Black Tower - Louis Bayard
audio performance by Simon Vance
4 stars

I'm a man of a certain age--old enough to have been every kind of fool--and I find to my surprise that the only counsel I have to pass on is this: Never let your name be found in a dead man's trousers.

Dr. Hector Carpentier is remembering a strange and significant piece of his past. It involves the mystery of a Bourbon prince, the historical, criminal, criminalist, Eugene Francois Vidoqc, and a murder or two. The story has three time lines. The roots of the mystery take place during the Revolution and involve Hector’s father, who was also a physician. Most of the action takes place in 1818 when the young Hector’s name is found at a crime scene. Hector tells this story looking back on the events from a distance of old age. I liked his ironic, self-deprecating voice.
I found the multiple timelines a bit difficult to sort out at first. But, as the action picked up, I was totally immersed in the adventure. Vidocq is a fabulous character whose behavior would be unbelievable were it not based on historical fact. As usual, Simon Vance brought every character to full life. I also had a print edition which had a 19th century map of Paris on the frontispiece, a family tree of the Bourbons, and a helpful timeline of France before and after the Revolution.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
(13) This is the second book by this author I have read - both have been quite good historical mysteries. The first being 'The Pale Blue Eye' was about a murder at a military academy, featuring Edgar Allen Poe and was quite good. This one is down just a notch, but also very entertaining and well-written. The story of the lost dauphin - The son of King Louis and Marie Antoinette who was imprisioned during the French Revolution and then was said to have died years later. I don't really know the details of this part of history well but apparently there was never a body and there were pretenders through the years claiming to be Louis the 17th. This is a story of one of those pretenders -- or wait, was he the real deal. In my opinion, the answer to the book's ultimate riddle is left ambiguous. I think this may turn some readers off, but I was OK with it.

Bayard writes fairly well and is good at keeping dramatic tension alive and the plot moving along. He captures the period, the setting, the atmosphere rather well making the historical back-drop feel authentic and integral to the story. I did not realize this Chief of police character Vidocq was a real person; the first detective to use modern methods such as making casts of footprints and using fingerprints. I thought his character was somehow lacking even though he was supposed to play a big role in the story - I thought his depiction fell flat; felt two-dimensional. Bayard is very good at the milk-toast narrator who may not be as he seems - if I recall that was a big part of 'The Pale Blue Eye' as well and is done very effectively.

I enjoyed this. Bayard reminds one of Caleb Carr, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Michael Cox - great escapist reading that actually has some gravitas without being ponderous. Not genre mystery fodder, yet very accessible. I will definitely read more of his novels. ( )
  jhowell | Mar 27, 2016 |
Really enjoyed this author's style and the images of the day, 1818 Paris, were very visual. Good story even to the end, kept you thinking and guessing. ( )
  anglophile65 | Mar 8, 2016 |
I absolutely loved this book! When I first started it, I was a little thrown off by the use of modern language and forensic techniques in 19th century England, but as I got further along, the writing style combined with the historic setting started to flow together. What annoyed me in the beginning of the book, I found charming by the end of it. ( )
  bjh3038 | Aug 22, 2014 |
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Epigraph
To endure is the first thing that a child ought to learn, and that which he will have the most need to know. -Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Dedication
In memory of my dad
First words
1st meeting with the Prisoner: shortly after 1 am Prisoner alone cell. Dinner had not been eaten. Nor breakfast
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061173509, Hardcover)

Vidocq! Master of disguise and chief of a newly created plainclothes police force, Vidocq is a man whose name sends terror rippling through the Parisian underworld of 1818—and the inconsequential life of Hector Carpentier is violently shaken when Vidocq storms into it. A former medical student living in his mother's Latin Quarter boardinghouse, Hector finds himself dragged into a dangerous mystery surrounding the fate of the dauphin, the ten-year-old son of King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette presumed to have suffered a cruel death years earlier in Paris's dreaded Temple. But the truth of what happened may be even more shocking—and it will fall to an aimless young man and the most feared detective in Paris to see justice done for a frightened little boy in a black tower . . . no matter what the cost.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:10 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Having used his mastery of disguise and surveillance to nab some of France's most notorious criminals, early nineteenth-century detective Vidocq teams up with obscure medical student Hector to track down the most challenging adversary of his career, a case with ties to the missing son of Marie Antoinette.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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