Rated of 5
Excellent historical fiction
I read a lot of historical fiction, and I have to admit this was one of the more enjoyable novels I’ve chanced upon in awhile (thank you, Bookbrowse!). The plot revolves around a young doctor who, through chance, becomes involved in a mystery pursued by Eugene Francois Vidoq, historically considered the father of modern criminal investigation.
Bayard deftly weaves these characters into the real-life mystery of the fate of Louis XVII. The author does a marvelous job of characterization, as well as providing a clear sense of time and place. Additionally, the novel is very well-paced, never becoming dull. I looked up the facts behind the book after finishing it, and was pleased to note that Bayard took few, if any, liberties with what is known about Vidoq and the disappearance of Charles-Louis.
My only disappointment in Bayard's writing was that at times the dialect seemed too British, particularly early in the book and when relating the comments of lower-class characters (e.g., at one point a character complains of being “peached” – informed upon – which to me sounds more like Dickens than Dumas). Overall, though, this was a fine novel that I won’t hesitate to recommend to my reading friends.