Gail Cooke's Reviews > Palace of Justice

Palace of Justice by Susanne Alleyn
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's review
Jan 01, 2011

it was amazing

A childhood fascination with the French Revolution which grew into a life long exploration of that subject has become a boon for readers of historical fiction with Susanne Alleyn’s Aristide Ravel series. The fourth story to feature Ravel is deemed by many to be her best, and we tend to agree.

It is the autumn of 1793 when Paris is torn asunder by fear, hunger, and distrust Madame Guillotine is kept busy - beheading the Queen as well as any and all who run afoul of the Revolutionary Tribunal for even the most minor infractions. At the same time a headless corpse is discovered - “The woman lay on her back in a narrow alley a few steps beyond the Palais-Egalite, sprawled in a great splash of her own blood....” It is not known who she is, perhaps a woman who has fallen on hard times as have so many. Police agent Ravel is asked to investigate her death.

Just as he is beginning to try to trace the woman he learns of a similar murder, another headless corpse and then another. Most puzzling of all is the fact that there is absolutely no connection between those killed. It soon becomes obvious that the city is being terrorized by a serial killer, someone who murders at random, but why?

Alleyn is such an apt student of French history that her pages come alive with pinpoint descriptions of streets, places, and dress. She adroitly captures the tenor of that time as she takes readers on an intriguing chase to a satisfying finish.

- Gail Cooke
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