Monday, July 12, 2010

Review: For the King

Summary: For her first novel, Mistress of the Revolution, which the Associated Press dubbed one of the "best reads of the year," Catherine Delors earned comparisons to Tracy Chevalier and Philippa Gregory. In For the King, she again demonstrates her matchless ability to illuminate key turning points in history while weaving a gripping story about a man caught between his heart and his integrity.

The Reign of Terror has ended, and Napoléon Bonaparte has seized power, but shifting political loyalties still tear apart families and lovers. On Christmas Eve 1800, a bomb explodes along Bonaparte's route, narrowly missing him but striking dozens of bystanders. Chief Inspector Roch Miquel, a young policeman with a bright future and a beautiful mistress, must arrest the assassins before they attack again. Complicating Miquel's investigation are the maneuverings of his superior, the redoubtable Fouché, the indiscretions of his own father, a former Jacobin, and two intriguing women.

Based on real events and characters and rich with historical detail, For the King takes readers through the dark alleys and glittering salons of post-revolutionary Paris and is a timeless epic of love, betrayal, and redemption. -- Dutton

I have been in a kind of a rut with historical fiction books lately. Not all historical fiction books, but ones about kings and queens. So when I sat down to pick up FOR THE KING by Catherine Delors, I was a little concerned that I wouldn't be in the mood for this type of book.

I guess I shouldn't have judged a book by its cover (or its title for that matter) because FOR THE KING wasn't one of those "royalty" books! In fact, once I actually took the time to read the book's description, I pretty much knew I was going to enjoy this book. FOR THE KING takes place in pre-revolutionary France when Napoleon was in power. The story begins with an assassination attempt on Napoleon's life and then follows one man's investigation into the crime. In reality, this novel was more of a crime thriller set in France in the early 1800s.

Ms. Delors debut novel MISTRESS OF THE REVOLUTION was one of the first books that I reviewed on Booking Mama. I had to laugh when I re-read my review because I mentioned at the time that I didn't read a lot of historical fiction. Boy, have times changed! I do remember thinking MISTRESS OF THE REVOLUTION was one of the best historical fiction books that I had read, and FOR THE KING didn't let me down either (even with the high expectations I had for it.) I absolutely loved this book and once again truly appreciated Ms. Delor's storytelling abilities.

I've mentioned quite a few times that I like to get my history lessons from historical fiction books. Well, prior to reading this book, I basically knew little, if anything, about this time period; however, I think I learned a great deal about France in the early 1800s (while also really enjoying the story.) I found that FOR THE KING included a tremendous amount of historical information -- both about the political environment in France as well as social environment; and I actually found all of it to be fascinating. There is no doubt that Ms. Delors did a tremendous amount of research to write this novel and that she is definitely a master of historical fiction.

Not only did Ms. Delors' research and historical information impress me, but I also loved the characters and the actual story about the crime. FOR THE KING really did have a little something for everyone -- crime, mystery, suspense, betrayal, complex relationships, history, political intrigue, and even romance. The characters were well developed and I became quite fond of Miquel and his father. Even though much of this story was about the investigation into the assassination attempt, I appreciated that there was more depth to Miquel and the people in his life. Throughout the story, Miquel matures a great deal and learns some important, albeit difficult, lessons.

The story of this assassination attempt is often considered the first modern police investigation. The author did just an amazing job of weaving together the fact and fiction to create a intriguing tale. I think this story and the real-life characters in it go to prove that truth can be stranger than fiction. Some of the characters in this story were incredibly unethical and deceptive; and I enjoyed seeing how their behavior affected the course of the investigation. In addition, I appreciated all of the twists and turns (and a few surprises!) that took place in the novel.

I think it's pretty apparent how I felt about this book -- I loved it! I really enjoyed it and I thought it was a refreshing change of pace when it comes to historical fiction. If you haven't read either of Ms. Delors' books, then you are certainly missing out!

Thanks to Diane Saarinen for sending me a review copy of this book. Make sure you visit tomorrow because Ms. Delors will be stopping by with a fantastic guest post and I will be giving away a copy of FOR THE KING.


Meghan said...

Aw, it looks like I'm missing out! I've had her first book on my wishlist for ages. It looks like I'll have to add this one, too. Great review!

Meghan @ Medieval Bookworm

Dreamy said...

Such a great review, I've only recently discovered your site. Have you read any novels by Kate Mosse? Her novels Labryinth and Sepulchre are wonderful.

bermudaonion said...

I love to read books set in France, but haven't read many set in the past. This one sounds really good.

Molly said...

I have only recently discovered that I enjoy historical fiction (never really gave it a chance before) and this sounds like a great one for me!

Thanks for the awesome review - and introduction to this author.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

This sounds very good. But isn't it weird how many covers cut off the face of the woman?

Beth Hoffman said...

This book sounds fascinating for so many reasons. Great review, Julie!

Catherine Delors said...

Thanks for the great review! I can't begin to tell you how great it feels to read something like this... :)

Beth F said...

I know I said this somewhere else, but I really do have to read this one. And just your brief mention of her first book has made me curious about that too!

Amused said...

Oh this one does sound fabulous! I have read lots of historical fiction but for some reason I haven't read much about the French Revolution.

Sarah said...

I love historical fiction. Although, I haven't read it in a while. I definitely love learning about history through a good story. Added to my to-read pile!