|No. of Pages:||285|
|Cover Price:||$9.99 Paperback, $.99 Kindle|
Marjorie Bowen was a prolific writer of historical mysteries and romances. Although she died in 1952, her books are still being read and enjoyed; Endeavour Books has released one of her most fascinating novels, The Poisoners,which was first published in 1936. The novel takes place in France during the late 1600s. In 1676 there was a scandal in Paris when a Madame de Brinvilliers was executed for killing several family members with poison, and upon her death, the case was considered closed. However, afterward, there were several widows in France who confessed to Catholic priests that they had poisoned their husbands.
Bowen takes these historical events and weaves her story through them. When newly hired police lieutenant Charles Desgrez attends a dinner in honor of his wife, Solange’s, birthday, one of the guests gets drunk and hints that she is involved in procuring poisons for women who are unhappily married. Charles does a little investigating, finds that the woman was telling the truth, and goes to his boss, the chief of police, M. de la Reynie. Together they begin to look into the matter and find they are involved in a much bigger affair than expected; not only are King Louis XIV and his wife and mistresses connected to what is going on, but there is also a black society that performs devil rituals which include the murder of babies, as well as poisoning of key individuals connected to the King and the Pope. Both policemen must be very careful as they try to find the truth, since the King refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem, and being politically incorrect will result in both of them being executed.
Bowen’s writing is excellent, and readers will almost feel that they are living in the time period. Bowen has created characters who are believable and are most likely based on real people. She has done her research, and has successfully combined the fictional story with historical facts. The danger to Desgrez, Solange, and de la Reynie makes for palpable suspense throughout, and there are twists and turns that are very unexpected.
Readers who like historical novels, and also like to gain a little knowledge while reading a suspenseful thriller, will want to read this novel. The story is fascinating, the setting rings true, and it’s fun to learn some historical facts.
Special Thanks to NetGalley for supplying a review copy of this novel.
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