A Plague of Lies
Right at the opening, this novel takes Hemingway’s advice to show “how the weather was” by vividly portraying a Paris rainstorm. Charles du Lac is a Jesuit scholastic and teacher a school named after Louis XIV, a king whom he does not admire because previous experience as a soldier has made du Lac something of a pacifist. He comes to Versailles to deliver a relic as a present for Mme. Maintenon, the king’s wife, and becomes entangled in solving crimes that appear to be centered on a fictional illegitimate daughter of the king.
Both the splendor and the squalor of Versailles are portrayed. Mirrors bring daylight indoors, and aristocrats relieve themselves in corners between free meals. The first body is found in a hallway, and then the murders move outdoors among magnificent gardens and ingenious fountains. Dance is a specialty of the school and features prominently in all three books of this series, but du Lac takes time out from preparing a ballet to investigate what may or may not be a plot against the king. The background is of more interest than the mystery.