Napoleon Must Die: A Mme. Vernet Investigation

Quinn Fawcett, Author
Quinn Fawcett, Author Avon Books $4.99 (246p) ISBN 978-0-380-76541-6
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Napoleon Bonaparte is under siege from Admiral Nelson in his North Africa stronghold, but the real battle in this mystery, a first in a series, is over the fate of Lucien Vernet, the head of the military gendarmes. He is suspected by Napoleon's chief aide of murdering a marine guard and stealing a priceless pharaonic scepter, the major French spoil of war and symbol of the pasha's dominion. Against all odds--and the mores of the era--Victoire Vernet, the accused officer's wife, traipses across Egypt to prove her husband innocent. Along the way she risks death in the pasha's castle, watches her only female comrade-in-arms die at the hands of an Englishman and narrowly escapes death by diving into the Nile. Unfortunately, the authors (Quinn Fawcett is a pseudonym for Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Bill Fawcett) seem to have put more effort into their elaboration on the geography of 18th-century Egypt than into the plot, settling for a solution to the mystery akin to a Napoleonic version of ``the butler did it.'' Victoire's character is a bit forced--a likeable if somewhat boring modern feminist in the body of a corseted Napoleonic lady. (Aug.)
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