Alleyn’s fourth (The Cavalier of the Apocalypse, 2009, etc.) takes readers back in time to Aristide Ravel’s second major case, during the Terror after the French Revolution.
In 1793, Paris saw many headless corpses, enemies of the Republic swiftly dispatched by the guillotine. The body found in an alley and brought to investigator Ravel is different: a luckless whore brutally hacked apart, her head nowhere to be found. The Revolution turned all of France upside down: The Palais-Royal became the Palais-Égalité and Queen Marie-Antoinette the widow Capet. Now the Revolution itself is starting to turn, as beggars are decapitated and well-meaning Republicans tried for traitors—among them Mathieu Alexandre, Ravel’s dearest boyhood friend. Even as the real enemies of the Republic, monarchist agitators and deposed aristocrats, are rallying Britain against France, Ravel hopes that Mathieu will be found innocent. He suspects that the provocateurs may even stoop to grisly murder to undermine the new regime. As the headless bodies mount across all classes and neighborhoods of Paris, Ravel, with the help of imprisoned Mathieu, closes in on the killer. But some of the murders don’t fit the pattern. Has personal greed or vengeance swamped political conviction?
A fiendishly clever and compelling mystery set in a grim, gripping vision of Paris where there is no justice, only shades of gray.