Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris
1407, France. Charles VI periodically lapses into madness, leaving his brother, Louis, Duc d’Orléans, as de facto king during Charles’s indispositions. Paris is rocked when Louis, spendthrift of monies squeezed from an over-taxed populace and tireless in his pursuit of other men’s wives, is viciously slaughtered in the street by unknown assassins. Provost Guillaume de Tignonville must discover those responsible for the crime. Suspects are plentiful: random robbers, foreign agents, jealous husbands, Louis’s powerful kin. As he investigates, Guillaume realizes that the pursuit of justice can come at great personal cost.
Jager has produced another well-written, riveting true-crime history. The backdrop for the murder (political and personal rivalries, etc.) is skillfully evoked. Characterization of historical persons is an area where Jager shines: using the firsthand historical record rather than his own speculation, the result is manifestly engaging. The text is also supplemented by enlightening maps and illustrations, allowing readers to form an accurate mental picture of places and events. While the murderer is rather abruptly exposed and the ending never so neat (or fair) as in a novel, readers of crime fiction as well as nonfiction will find Jager’s work enthralling. Recommended.