The Phantom of Rue Royale (Nicolas Le Floch 3)
Jean-François Parot; Howard Curtis (translator)
Gallic, Oct 7 2014, $15.95
In 1770 Parisians celebrate at Rue Royale the Dauphin’s soon to be wedding. Watching the fireworks gala from nearby Place Louis XV is Châtelet Police Commissioner Nicolas Le Floch as a civilian. The King rejected his superior Lieutenant General of Police Sartine’s request to work crowd control in order to avoid repeating the disaster that occurred at his Majesty’s wedding festivities in 1747.
When Monsieur Ruggieri’s pyrotechnic launches causes an out of control inferno, the crowd panics. Over a thousand people die with the city outraged by the disaster. Le Floch finds one victim’s death seemingly different from all the others who died from the fire or the crush to escape the blaze. This twentyish pregnant female had neck bruising that occurs when someone is strangled. He wants to investigate the homicide, but understanding police politics especially during a Royal calamity, Le Floch does so under the guise of an inquiry looking into the entire tragedy.
The third Nicolas Le Floch French historical police procedural (see The Châtelet Apprentice and The Man with the Lead Stomach) is a great entry due to Jean-François Parot’s skill in transporting armchair readers to Paris two decades before the Revolution. The whodunit is terrific, but it is the deep look into 1770 French society that makes this novel tres magnifique.