I AM VIDOCQ by Vincent McConnor


Email this review


In his fourth novel, a police procedure offering set in the Paris of 1823, McConnor drops the Chief Inspector Damoit of The Riviera Puzzle and The Provence Puzzle. replacing him with Francois Vidocq, the real-life founder of the Suret‚ Nationale and a character featured by Balzac in his novel Scenes from a Courtesan's Life. A former convict, unjustly sentenced to a life of hard labor, Vidocq escapes from prison and is subsequently pardoned by the King. Meanwhile, he has founded the Suret‚, and earned his reputation as the most cunning and resourceful crime fighter in Paris. I Am Vidocq chronicles his efforts to solve a series of related murders and thefts that range from the death of one of Paris's most alluring and notorious courtesans to a rash of major burglaries that are decimating the furnishings and art treasures of the chateaux of the Loire. As he roams Paris from its hovels to the haunts of the powerful, Vidocq uncovers a ring of ruthless criminals that includes some of France's most illustrious and fashionable burghers, bankers and aristocrats. In his spare time, he manages to play devoted son to his doting mother, constant husband to his lovely but ailing wife, and source of inspiration to his two young friends, Alexander Dumas and Honor‚ de Balzac, struggling writers whom he regales with tales of his exploits over elegant meals in chic Parisienne eateries. No spellbinder, this novel is nonetheless fun to read, thanks mostly to its textured recreations of early 19th-century Paris, a cast of vividly drawn and idiosyncratic characters, and a serviceable if somewhat contrived story line that works precisely because it is so obviously meant as a vehicle for the novel's truly diverting players and their various milieux.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1985
Publisher: Dodd, Mead