cover image Memory of Flames

Memory of Flames

Armand Cabasson, trans. from the French by Isabel Reid. Gallic (IPG, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-906040-84-0

Set in 1814, Cabasson’s exceptional third Napoleonic Murders whodunit (after Wolf Hunt) finds Bonaparte’s depleted forces reeling as the allies advance on Paris. Against that dramatic backdrop, the emperor’s self-important older brother, Joseph, believes that royalists plan to murder key members of the team charged with defending the city. The first victim, Colonel Berle, was working at home on a proposal for Joseph to “transform the mound at Montmartre into an impregnable redoubt.” Besides torturing and mutilating Berle, his assassin left behind a royalist emblem, a “white rosette with a medallion in the middle decorated with a fleur-de-lis in the shape of an arrowhead crossed with a sword” known as the Swords of the King. Joseph orders Lt. Col. Quentin Margont to infiltrate the royalist movement and identify the killer as well as discover the plotters’ broader schemes. Cabasson ratchets up the tension masterfully as both the investigation and the assault on the city near their end. The intricate storytelling and sophisticated character development make this one of the best historical mysteries of recent years. (Dec.)