When a body is found on the streets of Paris, the brilliant detective Vidocq is on the trail of a murderer. Unfortunately, that trail leads right to medical student Hector Carpentier’s door. Hector has his own troubles, he’s heavily in debt after “investing” in a young dancer’s career. To make ends meet, he and his mother take in boarders. The household mood is a combination of quiet resentment and guilt.
Vidocq appears and whisks Hector away to identify the body of a man he’s never seen before, a man found with Hector’s name on his person. Who is this guy? What connection does he have to Hector? He has no idea but Vidocq isn’t convinced. He drags Hector along to through the seedier parts of Paris as he investigates every clue. Clues that lead to secrets so large if they became known they could change the future of France.
I’ve been fascinated with the doomed monarchs of France since I read The Queen’s Confession by Victoria Holt back when I was a teen. The part the children play is most tragic. While Marie-Therese survived, partly through her own will, Louis-Charles died of neglect and abuse. It’s no wonder there were so many men who claimed to be Louis-Charles in the days after the Revolution. Wouldn’t it be a happier ending to believe that instead of a little boy dying alone in a dark dungeon he lived a peaceful life hidden away somewhere? Of course, a new king on the throne would be rather inconvenient for some other people. Inconvenient enough to commit murder? This is the premise behind The Black Tower. It makes for a rollicking good story.
If you’re going to have someone solve this mystery, it might as well be Vidocq. I had no idea who Vidocq was until Tasha mentioned him. He’s like a shadier Sherlock Holmes in The Black Tower. It was a smart idea to have the book from the point of view of Hector, Vidocq’s reluctant sidekick. Like Hector, the reader can only guess at how his mind works. It was fun seeing Hector react to the disguises too.
There are plenty of plot twists and peril in The Black Tower. Though many of the characters were real people, the story is fictional. It’s very Alexandre Dumas. And the ending…well, it’s sort of left to the reader to decide who was telling the truth. Being an optimist, I’m going to look through my rose coloured glasses and think the best of everyone.
About the Audio: My book bloggy peeps can’t stop singing the praises of Simon Vance. I wanted to know if he is really all that. And he is! I can’t say that my reading experience would have been as much fun as listening. He was just so expressive and became the characters in the story. I could see Vidocq and Hector when he read their lines. It was so entertaining!