The Officer’s Prey
Set against the sweeping background of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1813, The Officer’s Prey is a fast-paced novel that will appeal both to readers of historical mystery and military historical fiction. Quentin Margont, a captain in the 84th Regiment, is asked to investigate the grisly murder of a young Polish woman. There is reason to believe the perpetrator is a highly placed officer. Among the few clues is a secret journal left by the romantic victim, in which she refers to meeting a “savior.” Aided by his friend Fernand Lefine, Margont proceeds with his inquiries. His investigation straddles the entire campaign.
The story moves along at a rapid clip with period detail well integrated into the story; the hardships of the invasion and retreat are well described. Cabasson is obviously exceedingly well versed in the Napoleonic campaigns and, in addition, works as a psychiatrist. He does an excellent job in balancing the broader canvas of Napoleon’s disastrous action in Russia with the intimate and gruesome details of the murder story, and in contrasting the details of Margont’s quest to unmask the slayer with the killer’s further descent into madness. The translation seems equally well done. It was difficult to put the book down, and I learned quite a bit about the Napoleonic wars in addition! Although I have not read a great deal of military fiction, I look forward to reading the other two books in this series.