I got an Advance Uncorrected Proof of The Cavalier of the Apocalypse from the author in exchange for my review. It's the third in the Aristide Ravel series of historical mysteries set in Paris around the time of the French Revolution. The author Susanne Alleyn is a skilled writer, does impeccable research, and fashions clever mysteries. Since I'd already read and enjoyed her first two ~ Game of Patience and Treasury of Regrets ~ I was sure I would similarly enjoy this one.
I was wrong. I didn't just enjoy this novel ~ I LOVED it! In fact, I gobbled it down in two evenings, both nights reading way past my bedtime, and then, as soon as I finished it, I wanted to read it all over again. That doesn't happen to me very often, so you know this is one special book.
Okay, the story (no spoilers). In this atmospheric murder mystery, we meet Aristide Ravel, a young, somewhat dour and disillusioned writer who's down on his luck. To supplement his meager income, he begins taking commissions to write revolutionary pamphlets and dissertations against the excesses of the government and the unfairness of the laws, which is an activity that could land him in jail or worse ~ dangling from the end of a rope.
One evening, while helping put out a suspicious fire in a church near his lodging, Ravel runs into a man he knows slightly who turns out to be a police inspector. Not long after, he has occasion to meet up with Inspector Brasseur again when he loses his purse to a pickpocket, and a few days later, he is rousted out of bed and, at the request of the inspector, brought to an old cemetery where a horrific murder has been committed, ostensibly to aid in the solution of the mystery.
Without being preachy or textbook-y in the least, Ms. Alleyn brilliantly portrays life in Paris during the months leading up to the storming of the Bastille: the arrogance, injustice, and excesses of the royals and aristos and the corresponding grinding poverty of the masses which brought about an answering rage, rebellion, and thirst for justice that turned into the bloody revolution. She does this while, at the same time, delivering one ripping good story.
The novel is set to be released this month, so don't delay. Go to your favorite online store to pre-order (click the link above which leads you to a list of online stores), or go to the nearest brick-and-mortar bookstore on July 21 to pick up your copy. I'm going to ~ as gifts for some of my mystery loving friends. It's so worth it!