Memory of Flames

Written by Armand Cabasson Isabel Reid (trans.)
Review by Jasmina Svenne

When Lieutenant Colonel Margont is ordered by Joseph Bonaparte to investigate the murder of a colonel charged with drawing up plans to defend Paris, he has no choice but to obey. Despite his republican convictions, Margont is forced to infiltrate a group of royalists whose symbol was found on the mutilated body. It is March 1814, and not even Napoleon can stave off the massive Allied armies for long. With the fall of Paris imminent, Margont has to work fast to uncover the murder – or even to stay alive.

Memory of Flames is the third Margont novel, but there is enough information to allow someone new to the series to grasp how the central characters have been shaped by their experiences. This complex characterisation extends to the plotters, each of whom has his or her motives for their actions.

I have a few minor quibbles. I wish the translator had found a more old-fashioned phrase instead of ‘cheated on’ to refer to the sole female character’s unfaithful husband. While the impersonal tone in the chapters detailing the advance of the Allies seems fitting, the same detachment comes as an anticlimax in the epilogue.

That said, I imagine Cabasson’s fans will be delighted by the hint that we have not heard the last Napoleon or Margont.