Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Prince Lost to Time: Review

In this second mystery in the series featuring the immortal investigator Nicholas Segalla, the sleuth is searching for the truth of the mysterious fate of the lost Dauphin, Louis Charles. Queen Marie Antoinette was forced to leave her son behind when Revolutionaries forced her to mount the scaffold in 1793. The time just before her death and imprisonment was a whirlwind of revolutionary activity. The Royal Family's life quickly changed from an idyllic existence in their beautiful palace to the squalor of prison. And then death at the hands of the revolutionary executioners.The first to die was King Louis XVI, followed nine months later by his lovely queen. Months before her date with the guillotine, her beloved son and daughter were removed from her side, and the Dauphin disappeared into the annals of history.It is now 1815. Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo has opened the door for the restoration of France's Bourbon monarchy, but now it must be determined who is the rightful heir to the throne? The Dauphin Louis Charles, son Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, would be the obvious choice, but the official account says that he died in 1795 and his uncle has claimed the throne as Louis XVIII. Segalla, has been sent France as "special emissary of the English prime minister" to investigate--because there are also mounting rumors that the Dauphin did not die after all; that he was spirited away and survived the massacre. While there he allies himself with government archivist Raoul Tallien, to examine the available documents and try to unravel the plots and subplots of former Revolutionaries, Royalists and a nervous Louis XVIII, who stands to lose the throne should his nephew turn up alive.To keep his promise to the doomed queen, Segalla must brave treachery, murderous attacks, and subterfuge to find the answer.

This was a decent read. The historical details are good and given the facts that Dukthas uses in the narrative the solution makes a great deal of sense. Of course, I know very little about the mystery surrounding the disappearance/death of the Dauphin beyond the brief mentions made in various history classes. But it seems to me that she has done her research well. If I were to rate this on the historical story alone, I would give it a four rather than the three-star rating I'm going to settle on. For whatever reason, I didn't take to Nicholas Segalla for most of the book. I finely warmed up to him in the final chapters--primarily because of his relationship to Tallien in that section. I would like to read the next book in the series to see if that relationship is more fully developed. [Finished 11/29/11--but blogger would not cooperate last night for posting...]

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