PAUL GASTEBOIS MYSTERIES

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Book Two

Versailles, 1789: Over a thousand noble, clerical, and commoner deputies from all over France have descended on the seat of Louis XVI’s court for the Estates General, called by the king to solve the nation’s financial crisis. After weeks of discord, the commoner deputies have disregarded the instructions of their monarch and declared themselves to be a new National Assembly. The king, in mourning for his dead heir, appears to have accepted the National Assembly for the moment.

Paul Gastebois is summoned to Versailles by his old friend Hyacinthe de Breul, a deputy to the Estates General who is also enjoying a reunion with old friends from the elite school in Paris, Louis-le-Grand. On a dark night outside the king’s château, a hidden man with a stutter threatened to kill Hyacinthe. As Paul searches the town for the young groom who might have menaced Hyacinthe, hundreds of foreign mercenaries arrive, alarming the deputies to the Assembly, who fear the king has decided to dissolve the body by force.

Soon threats lead to murder, and while courtiers frolic in the king’s pleasure gardens and deputies fear for their future, Paul must follow a clever, determined murderer through the dark corners of Versailles and deep into the fetid chambers of the Bastille, the sinister fortress that looms over Paris.

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Book One

Paris, 1788: Facing bankruptcy after years of expensive wars, King Louis XVI calls a meeting of the Estates General, the ancient French legislature which has not met in 174 years. The city hums with talk about modernizing the assembly and changing France into a constitutional monarchy.

Paul Gastebois, a confidential inquirer, isn’t interested in politics. He’s busy with the daily tedium of detective work—following foreign diplomats for the Parisian police and helping artisanal guilds enforce their rules. He’d like to make a name for himself solving crimes, but few cases have come his way. Then Paul is hired to find a song peddler who sang bawdy songs to crowds on the Pont Neuf. The missing man had seen someone from his past on the bridge, and had vanished a few weeks later.

As Paul searches Paris for the song peddler, his investigation leads him into the world of underground publishing, where anonymous writers attack King Louis and his queen, Marie-Antoinette, and foreign governments manipulate public opinion for their own purposes. When a ruthless killer strikes, Paul must unravel the mystery of the song peddler’s disappearance, or risk losing everything he holds most dear.