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4 Stars Out Of 5
Dark in the book of dark
January 30, 2011
As other reviews have noted, this is a work of historical fiction. Historically, it is an excellent read. "Dark" is the theme throughout. A reader who knows God's omnipresence can see Him many times, even in the darkest of days in the story. However, I would not recommend this for a non-believer. The characters display great doubt about His existence, and the clues of His presence are subtle at best. A good underlying theme of a prodigal son, but the ending doesn't wrap things up well (it doesn't have to be Disneyesque; it just has a rather abrupt ending).
I have loved Paul Robertson's other books so much that I grabbed this one immediately without even reading the blurb on the back. what a disappointment. The story seems to show the Baron smothering his wife in her bed, then goes on to infer that her murder is a mystery. I found this very confusing. I could not keep the characters (or the intrigue they seem to be involved in) straight. They all seemed to be cardboard characters. I have not found that to be true of Mr. R's other novels. I got to page 97 and gave up. I did not care what happened to the characters (or whether France went to war. Hopefully his next book will be better.
"Dark in the City of Light" is a historical suspense novel set mainly in France in the 1870s. There was also a "who-done-it" mystery in this story, though that's not obvious at first. The "who-done-it" was also not obvious, though there were enough clues that the reader could guess the answer before the main characters did (since the characters were limited by their not knowing they needed to share the clues).The world-building was excellent, vividly describing the locations, events, and politics of the time period. Because politics were a driving force behind much of the suspense, it's woven into the story and didn't slow the pacing. The suspense was from the physical danger to the various characters and the strain on the family relationships. The characters were interesting, complex, varied, and acted realistically. They dealt with realistic problems, and I cared about what happened to them.The characters didn't believe in God (at least, not one active in human affairs). However, they had a habit of saying, "Only God could do that" with the implied assumption that He wouldn't. At the end, one character said that if a certain impossible thing did happen, it'd be proof God existed. You can guess what happens, but that's about the extent of the religious content.There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this intriguing novel to those who enjoy clean, well-written historical suspense.I received this book as a review copy from the publisher.
Dark in the City of Light by Paul Robertson is compelling historical fiction about 1870s Paris. Baron Harsanyi works for the Austrian ambassador working in Paris. His late wife owned some cinnabar mines that produce the highly prized materials that the English, Prussian, and French are all bidding for. Their political machinations fill the novel with twists and turns. His daughter Therese loves being in the City of Light, especially with her forbidden beau Auguste who may have secret intentions for their courtship. Her brother Rudolph seems to be just going through the motions, forced to accede to his father's wishes that he attend military academy instead of fulfilling his own political ambitions, until he discovers a terrible secret about his father that may destroy the entire family. Robertson writes a truly rare novel with great intelligence and suspenseful twists and turns. Just when the reader thinks they know what's going to happen next, Robertson reveals new information that throws everything into question. I wish there were more novels written like this, that stimulate the brain and thrill the senses with terrific historical detail. I didn't want it to ever end.