City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris
The Affair of the Poisons rocked the glamorous world of Louis XIV in the 17th century. A series of arrests led to the discovery of an underworld of fortune-tellers and poisoners operating in Paris, with clients high in the ranks of the Sun King’s many courtiers.
Holly Tucker has tackled the complex primary sources of the Archives of the Bastille, and particularly the notes and records of Nicholas La Reynie, Paris’ first chief of police, to produce a compelling account of this complex investigation. City of Light, City of Poison expertly charts La Reynie’s rise to power and establishment of order on the streets of Paris. La Reynie, though, is challenged greatly as his investigation into a number of potential poisonings mushrooms. Hundreds of suspects are arrested and imprisoned in the Chateau de Vincennes, and accusations of attempted murder, satanic masses and infanticide are even linked to Louis XIV’s long-time mistress, Athenais, Madame de Montespan.
Moving between suspect courtiers and a motley crew of charlatans, priests and palm readers, City of Light, City of Poison is an excellent companion to read to the work of other popular historians, including Anne Somerset and Antonia Fraser, on this subject. Concise, clear and thorough, it is a highly readable and even gripping account of the affair.