Palace of Justice
Palace of Justice by Susanne Alleyn
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

It’s no secret that I adore this series. Alleyn has done a masterfully creative job of integrating a well-paced series of intricate mysteries into the politically vibrant and sensually dismal period of post-Revolution Paris. You can see, smell, and taste the teeming streets and cloying chambers as brooding pseudo-detective Aristide Ravel makes his way through suspects and informants, burdened with such oppressive baggage of his own that we sometimes wonder if he’ll wind up on the other side of the law. (I love a good antihero with a heart of gold.)

The reason I didn’t give this book the full five stars lies in the lack of development of one important relationship, that of Ravel and his longtime friend, Mathieu Alexandre. Having read the books out of chronological order (the way they were published—oh, that’s so wrong!), I knew that Mathieu, especially within the period of events that takes place in this book, would become part of Ravel’s ever-growing burden of guilt, shame, and regrets, and I looked forward to seeing their relationship in action. I was disappointed. They could have been casual acquaintances.

Other than that, this book, like the others, did not disappoint. It provided the wonderful twists and turns that I fell in love with while reading the rest of the series.

Now, I am sad. I have no more Ravel mysteries to read.

To anyone who plans to read the series, I recommend devouring them in chronological order, and so does the author. Here they are, from Susanne Alleyn’s wonderful website:

Aristide Ravel Mysteries:

The Cavalier of the Apocalypse
Book 1 of the Ravel Mysteries

As I said, I read them as they were published, which means in the following order: 3, 4, 1, 2. Go figure. It did not matter so much in the end; I had Ravel’s every move memorized, so I could easily fit the puzzle pieces together. But I plan to reread the books in order in the future.

Mystery and history buffs everywhere, you’ll enjoy these novels immensely! And then you can join me in the fervent hope that we’ll all see Aristide Ravel again soon.

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