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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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6344815,284 (3.84)126
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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(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 |
A very interesting alternate history of the lost dauphin. Bayard's writing is always conspiratorial with his reader, and this one is no exception. If you have my habit of occasionally reading the dialogue aloud, there is a section that should reduce you to tears. Bayard really does manage to immerse his readers in the time period of his books; terrific. ( )
  MerryKat | Aug 19, 2014 |
The Black Tower by Louis Bayard is a historical mystery set in 1818 Paris involving the lost Dauphin of France, Louis-Charles (who would have been Louis XVII if Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette hadn't lost their heads in the revolution). The novel also features the historical François Vidocq, a former criminal who became France's first Director of Security and one of the first detectives of the modern era.

The writing is good - 1st person present, which is difficult to pull off but Bayard does quite well with snappy (and often humorously vulgar) dialog, flashbacks, a diary, correspondence, and fast-paced narrative. Got a little long in the middle, as modern novels often do, but the denouement was satisfying. Bit of an anti-religious bias (Bayard writes for Salon after all), but again, it's something many modern novels stumble over. Too bad, decreases their shelf life. My rating: 6 out of 10. ( )
  ResAliens | Feb 6, 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
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In memory of my dad
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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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