Excerpt from A Visible Darkness by Michael Gregorio, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

A Visible Darkness

A Mystery

by Michael Gregorio

A Visible Darkness
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2009, 464 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2011, 464 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


As I gazed on that spider in my garden—the leg of the dead fly jutting from its jaws like a bent piece of wire—I had to wonder whether Helena's dream had been not simply a distempered nightmare, but the vision of a real and terrible danger.

I went to take a spade and quickly buried the stoat, waving off the flies that circled around it in an angry swarm, nipping at my hands and face and neck, as if to take from my flesh the nourishment that I had just deprived them of. Then, wrapping a damp handkerchief around my face, breathing in the essence of lavender in which Lotte had soaked it, I went out quickly through the gate, turning right along the lane in the direction of Lotingen and the procurator's office.

The closer I got to the town, the worse the stench became, despite the lavender, despite the pressure with which I held the cotton to my nose.

By the time I reached the East Gate, I could hardly breathe.

The hot sun had only partly dried the river of yesterday's filth which covered the cobbles leading in the direction of Gaffenburger's abattoir. Beneath the solid crust, there was a semi-liquid mulch. And fresh beasts had been driven into Lotingen that morning, adding their own deposits to those of yesterday, and all the days before. The street was a dark brown carpet, and all above was a dense dark cloud of flies and other insects. If one attempted to pass that way, they would rise up, buzzing angrily at the intrusion, then fall back where they had come from.

The insects frightened us, but Spain terrorized the French even more.

They were facing a new kind war down there; the Emperor's answer was to send more men. Prussia had been subdued, while Spain had not. The campaign was a bottomless pit into which they were pouring money, men and arms. For over a month, the number of soldiers passing through our streets had been growing day after day. The Emperor's . nest were going to Spain; the worst would remain in Prussia.

French horses fouled our streets, as did the cows and the sheep that fed the troops. If an animal dropped dead, they left it there to rot. Bones and carcasses littered every yard of the way to Gaffenburger's stockyard. Wagons crowded with French soldiers rolled in swift succession down to the port, and every imaginable thing was left behind them: the remains of food and drink in every form. Solid, liquid, fully or partly digested. It was a common sight to see defecating French buttocks hanging out over the end of a cart. The flies swarmed in their wake, fell hungrily upon the sewage. Lotingen was sinking beneath a tide of filth. Myriads of insects floated on it, and flew above it. The French would not clean up after themselves. No Prussian would clean up after the French. And to make things worse, the gentle breeze from the sea which generally tempered the summer heat was nowhere to be found.

How long had it been since our lungs had breathed fresh air?

Linnaeus had been quite clear on this point: foul air and filth make flies!

I strode across the bridge.

As a rule, I go straight on, passing along Königstrasse, following the southern wall of the cathedral, then crossing over the market square to my office, which is on the far side, opposite the French General Quarters.

Instead, I turned sharp right.

Fifty yards down the lane stands the yard of Daniel Winterhalter. If one has to travel anywhere that the public coach does not go, and if one does not happen to own a horse or a trap, then a call at Winterhalter's is inevitable. He always has a fine selection of horses and a range of phaetons, flies and berlins for hire.

I went in through the arch, feeling better now that I had made my decision.

In the corner of the empty yard—most of the coaches had already gone—stood a most unseasonable carriage for the north coast of East Prussia. Winterhalter must have regretted buying it a thousand times: an ancient landau painted the same colour as the filthy sludge which fouled the streets outside.

Excerpted from A Visible Darkness by Mighael Gregorio. Copyright © 2009 by Mighael Gregorio. Published in April 2009 by St. Martin's Press. All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Baltic Amber & Prussia

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Romanovs
    The Romanovs
    by Simon Sebag Montefiore
    The Romanovs chronicles the reigns of the 20 individuals who were considered members of that dynasty...
  • Book Jacket: Barkskins
    Barkskins
    by Annie Proulx
    Barkskins, by Annie Proulx, is not a book to read quickly. After a month of slow reading, I ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Marriage of Opposites
    by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman's latest work, The Marriage of Opposites, is a historical fiction novel focusing on ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Falling
    by Jane Green

    "Readers who enjoy a love story with heart will adore this tale of homecoming and transformation." - LJ

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Secret Language of Stones
    by M. J. Rose

    "A fantastic historical tale of war, love, loss and intrigue."
    – Melanie Benjamin

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Sweet Caress
by William Boyd

William Boyd's Sweet Caress captures an entire lifetime unforgettably within its pages. It captivates.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!