There are few stories more heartbreaking than those of children punished for the crimes of their parents. For the children of deposed royalty, there may not even be a specific crime but just a need to destroy the line of inheritance. The Black Tower by Louis Bayard is based on the "lost dauphin", the young son of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, who supposedly died in the Black Tower at the age of ten after his parents were captured during the Revolution. There were hundreds of impostors later who claimed to be the now grown Louis XVII, actually spirited away before his reported death.
The Black Tower tells the story of a doctor, Hector Carpentier, who attended young Louis-Charles (Louis XVII) in the tower. Some of the story is told through the medical journal of Carpentier that details some of the actual purported mistreatments of the young boy. Carpentier's son, also Hector, is approached by a detective, Vidocq, when his name is found in a dead man's possession. It is of course actually his father that the man was looking for but the young doctor-in-training is intrigued and is pulled in to the investigation which leads to the discovery of the possible dauphin. This is a fantastic historical mystery with compelling characters and a real sense of loss. There is a heart-breaking scene between the would-be king and his older sister, the Duchess d'Angouleme.
I would love to know if Bayard plans on featuring Vidocq in another novel. He is a fantastic criminalist because he was once a criminal -- which is a very fascinating idea.
Steering clear of Madame Guillotine,
Sidenote: Yay! My 200th post and I'm having a lot of fun with this blog. Thanks to all my readers and I hope that I'm at least mildly entertaining sometimes. :)
Buy The Black Tower on Amazon or find it at your local library.