cover image The Madonna of Notre Dame

The Madonna of Notre Dame

Alexis Ragougneau, trans. from the French by Katherine Gregor. New Vessel, $15.95 trade paper (180p) ISBN 978-1-939931-39-9

Near the start of playwright Ragougneau’s arresting first novel, a beautiful young woman dressed in white in Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral falls to the floor from a bench where she appeared to be praying. Witnesses assume that she fainted, but in fact she’s been dead for hours. The subsequent medical examination of the unidentified victim shows that she’s been strangled; in addition, someone has tampered with the body in an unusual way. Thibault, an angelic-looking young man accused of the crime, admits that he hit the woman but didn’t kill her. After Thibault commits suicide, deputy magistrate Claire Kauffmann, who believes Thibault was innocent, and Fr. Francois Kern set out to find the real killer. Claire must navigate the murky waters of a male-dominated field, while harboring memories of a painful past, and Father Kern suffers from a debilitating, painful illness that has stunted his growth, and his loneliness is palpable. Both desperately want to see justice done, and the devastating truth proves that the line between good and evil isn’t always so clear. [em](Oct.) [/em]