The Black Tower
Our hero, narrator and everyman is Hector Carpentier, a doctor of venereology, who lives a stunted life at his parental home, a survivor among many of the trials of revolutio ...more
Bayard tells the story of the possible lost King of France (Louis-Charles) during the Restoration through the exploits of Vidocq, the famous and feared chief of the newly established undercover police force and a Parisian doctor. As historical fiction goes, Bayard balances the details of the period, plausibility, and moving the plot along better than most. The French Revolution and fast-moving, enjoyable fiction are not two ideas that I find go well toget ...more
There’s always a character (often the protagonist) who is wise beyond his time period
Someone famous wanders through the plot, no matter how improbably
No one really sounds like they’re actually from the period in which they’re living
The Black Tower is about an amazingly prescient proto-detective and his amazingly ...more
Reading this book was like unstacking a set of Russian nesting dolls. There were stories within stories, and plenty of twists and turns. I enjoy books that keep me guessing until the end...and even after I've turned the final page. This was one of those books.
I found the character of Vidocq to be fascina ...more
It was well written and paints a very gritty and real picture in vivid prose, but the plot seemed a tad contrived to me and the ending was plain convoluted. The historical setting is fascinating and adequately brought to life. I found the main characters colorful, however they were more annoying than interesting, maybe because they either beh ...more
The novel is a masterpiece, an evocation of the worn-down Paris of th ...more
When Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were executed, their son was imprisoned at eight years old. He was never let out of his cell, his body and clothing were infested with lice, he was given slop to eat, and w ...more
It has the crass multi faceted Vidocq the father of modern investigative techniques, teaming up with the young Dr. Carpentier whose father was Physician to the children of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette while they were imprisoned in the Temple.
Called to investigate the murder of a man with Dr. Carpentiers name and address found with the body, Vidocq finds he is not just investigating a murder but the possibi ...more
The narrator, naive medical student Hector Carpentier, crosses Vidocq's path, and also that of a young man who might be Louis XVII, the son of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. Hector will soon come to understand that there is no ...more
After Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were killed, their children lived on for some time in the black tower of the Temple. Eventually, the Dauphin, he who would have been Louis XVII, died. Or did he? That's the premise of the novel. The story itself is all right, but not especially brilliant. Mostly I liked seeing and reading a ...more
Bayard might have consulted The Moonstone, Bleak House or Les Misérables to get the atmosphere more right.
Another thing is the books seem to get ...more
Most of the tale is set in post revolutionary France, just after the reign of Napoleon (he is in exile on Saint Helena). 1818 and people are still afraid for their lives and no one is safe from the government. Especially the remaining aristocracy. Rumors abound that a very particular aristocrat that had long been thought dead was in fact alive.
This is a stand alone novel which is too bad since 2 of the main characters woul ...more
An inventive and somewhat gleeful look at both the legendary grand-daddy of super-sleuths, post-Revolutionary Paris's plainclothes police creator, Vidocq, as well as the many versions - mainly wishful - of what happened to the missing 10-year-old dauphin following the royal family's imprisonment..Bayard's nuan...more
There was once a boy-king who was held prisoner in a black tower - waiting for death. And his doctor came up with a plan.
Time di ...more
audio performance by Simon Vance
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 ...more
Really the only reason this book was written was to give Bayard a reason to play with Vidocq, a truly larger than life historical figure of the era whose Memoirs are far stranger than anything you will find in this very un-serious novel. In mood, it strikes very near the vein of the recent Sherlock Holmes adaptations, with plenty of cute asides and observations in addition to an actual crime investigation ...more
I am also not a big fan of conspiracy theory story lines.