Historical mystery. In the icy winter of 1786, in the final years before the French Revolution, hunger, cold, and seething frustration with the iron grip of France’s absolute monarchy drive poor and rich alike to outright defiance. Slums, fashionable cafés, and even aristocratic mansions echo with discontent and the first warning signals of the approaching turmoil of 1789.
Paris’s cemeteries are foul and disease-ridden, but no one, including penniless writer Aristide Ravel, expects to find a man with his throat cut lying dead in a churchyard, surrounded by strange Masonic symbols. Already suspected of subversive activities, Ravel must now clear his name of murder. His search for answers amid the city’s literary and intellectual demimonde—with the aid of friends who may not be all that they seem—leads him into a tangle of conspiracy, secret societies, royal scandal, and imminent revolution, which grows only more complex when the corpse disappears . . .
"Reading The Cavalier of the Apocalypse is like being in France just before the Revolution. Ms. Alleyn has managed to capture the spirit of the time in the angry squalor of the poor against the backdrop of titled privilege. But the story is not a social commentary—it never stops being a splendid mystery, packed with historical detail, red herrings, surprising twists, and even a little romance. If this is your first Aristide Ravel mystery you will want to dive into the sequels as soon as you can—promise." [The Historical Novels Review]
"After two mysteries set in the aftermath of the French Revolution, Alleyn recounts how her series sleuth, Aristide Ravel, became a detective in this superb prequel set in 1786. ... Alleyn expertly captures the politics and atmosphere of the period, seamlessly integrating them into a traditional whodunit plot." [Publishers Weekly (starred review)]
After two mysteries set in the aftermath of the French Revolution, Game of Patience (2006) and A Treasury of Regrets (2007), Alleyn recounts how her series sleuth, Aristide Ravel, became a detective in this superb prequel set in 1786. While visiting the site of a Paris church fire, Ravel, a poor aspiring writer who bears the emotional scars of a long-ago family trauma, encounters Inspector Brasseur, whom he recognizes as a former neighbor. Brasseur later seeks Ravel's help when an unidentified man turns up dead in a churchyard, his throat slit and a Masonic symbol carved into his chest, and hires Ravel as a subinspector. As the inquiry continues, Ravel begins to suspect that the Masons may be connected with a plot to replace Louis XVI with the Duc d'Orl ans as well as a scandal involving the disappearance of the queen's necklace. Alleyn expertly captures the politics and atmosphere of the period, seamlessly integrating them into a traditional whodunit plot.