Thursday, August 13, 2009

"The Cavalier of the Apocalypse"

Susanne Alleyn was born in Munich, Germany, and grew up in western Massachusetts and New York City, earning a bachelor's of fine arts in theater from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She has been researching and writing about the French Revolution since her teens and is currently working on her fourth Aristide Ravel historical mystery.

She applied the “Page 69 Test” to her new novel, The Cavalier of the Apocalypse, and reported the following:
The Cavalier of the Apocalypse is the third novel, but the first chronologically (taking place ten years before the other two), in my Aristide Ravel historical mystery series, set in Paris in the era of the French Revolution. Ravel, a down-on-his-luck writer, has unwillingly been drawn into hunting down the murderer of an unidentified man, who was found dead in a cemetery on a winter morning in 1786.

Page 69 is a low-key interlude, with no hint of the extremely bizarre details (some drawn from history) that crop up earlier and later in the novel. We are eavesdropping on Ravel and his employer/mentor, Inspector Brasseur, during their lunch break on the first day of the murder investigation.

A page or two back, Ravel and Brasseur interviewed a fashionable tailor, Monsieur Yvon, in order to discover how many of his wealthy customers might have owned a certain elegant striped silk waistcoat, an Yvon creation, now unfortunately blood-soaked and quite unwearable. Their next task, as Brasseur warns Ravel, is to learn which of those customers could be the corpse that’s now lying on a stone table in Paris’s morgue—a corpse with throat cut, tongue torn out, and a Masonic symbol slashed into its chest.

It doesn’t take them much longer to discover the dead man’s probable identity and question his family. Just as a very charming young lady volunteers to accompany Ravel to identify the body as that of her missing brother, however, someone gets to the morgue before them and disappears with the corpse. Oops.

Page 69:

It was nearing midday and Brasseur led Aristide to a modest eating-house a few streets to the north, away from the high-priced district surrounding the Palais-Royal, for a dish of pot-au-feu and a glass of rough red wine.

“What now?” Aristide asked, after wolfing down most of his portion of the stew. “I suppose we have to visit all these addresses.”

“Of course,” said Brasseur, crumbling the last of his slab of black bread into his bowl. “Only three of them; that’s nothing.”

“Is this your usual police work, then? Endless rounds of asking the same questions over and over?”

“I fear so,” Brasseur said pleasantly. “Consider yourself lucky; we might be working something tricky like a poisoning, in which case we’d be wearing out our shoes and our voices asking the same very dull questions of every apothecary in Paris, until we found the one who admitted to selling the stuff. But that’s the only way it gets done: patient, methodical investigation. Eventually, with common sense and enough shoe leather, you’ll find the answers you need.”

Aristide looked at the last few swallows of wine in his glass and decided against finishing it; he preferred the alertness that coffee brought, and the wine, in any case, was nearly undrinkable.
Brasseur, oblivious, tossed off the last of his own wine. “Are you done, then? Brace yourself, Ravel. One of these three on Yvon’s list is probably our corpse, and breaking the news to the family is never a pleasant job.”
Read the first chapters of The Cavalier of the Apocalypse, and learn more about the book and author at Susanne Alleyn's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Cavalier of the Apocalypse.

--Marshal Zeringue