The Rhetoric of Death (Charles du Luc Series #1)

( 9 )

Overview

An "amazing"* debut historical novel (*Ariana Franklin, national betselling author of Grave Goods)

Paris, 1686: When The Bishop of Marseilles discovers that his young cousin Charles du Luc, former soldier and half-fledged Jesuit, has been helping heretics escape the king's dragoons, the bishop sends him far away-to Paris, where Charles is assigned to assist in teaching rhetoric and directing dance at the prestigious college of Louis le Grand.

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The Rhetoric of Death

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Overview

An "amazing"* debut historical novel (*Ariana Franklin, national betselling author of Grave Goods)

Paris, 1686: When The Bishop of Marseilles discovers that his young cousin Charles du Luc, former soldier and half-fledged Jesuit, has been helping heretics escape the king's dragoons, the bishop sends him far away-to Paris, where Charles is assigned to assist in teaching rhetoric and directing dance at the prestigious college of Louis le Grand.

Charles quickly embraces his new life and responsibilities. But on his first day, the school's star dancer disappears from rehearsal, and the next day another student is run down in the street. When the dancer's body is found under the worst possible circumstances, Charles is determined to find the killer in spite of being ordered to leave the investigation.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Rock's superb historical debut opens with 28-year-old Charles du Luc arriving in 1686 Paris to serve as a teacher of rhetoric in a Jesuit school. He's spent seven years in the Society of Jesus and a stint in the French army that left him with a permanently damaged left arm. Soon after Charles takes up his position, Philippe Douté, a 16-year-old student under his charge, flees the school's grounds and disappears. A day later, a horseman almost runs down Philippe's younger brother in the street under circumstances that make Charles suspect that one enemy has targeted both boys. When Philippe's strangled corpse turns up in a latrine, Charles gets approval to look into the murder. His inquiry soon leads to danger for himself and his family. With an experienced writer's ease, Rock incorporates details of the political issues of the day into a suspenseful story line. Fans of Brother Cadfael, another military man turned priest sleuth, will be pleased. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews

Rock offers a debut novel rich with historical detail about everyday life in Paris, especially among the Jesuits, in the year 1686.

Twenty-eight-year-old Maître Charles Matthieu Beuvron du Luc has just completed the most difficult task of his young life by helping his distant cousin and love of his life, Pernelle, a Huguenot, escape from France. Charles and Pernelle were in love once, but she married another and Charles allayed his sorrow by marching off to war. Gravely injured, Charles decided upon his recovery to join the Jesuits and, although he has not yet taken his final vows, he has been shipped off to Paris by an uncle who discovered Charles' role in Pernelle's escape. The Huguenots remain in a dangerous place in the politics of the time, and aiding one is an offense not taken lightly. Charles presents himself at the College of Louis le Grand, where he is assigned as a rhetoric instructor. He is also tasked with helping to produce the school's annual production, which combines a play (in this case Latin tragedy) with an elaborate dance performance. As Charles settles into his new life, a student is murdered and another injured in a strange chain of events. Charles suspects that a high-ranking school official has ties to the crimes and sets out to solve the case. He follows the leads he uncovers, but is soon discovered and pressed into service by the police, who want him to spy for them. Soon, Charles finds himself a target—and even worse, he discovers that others are also in harm's way. Charles struggles to identify the killer against the backdrop of a Paris swollen with intrigue and religious strife. Rock's book, though somewhat overwritten, is meticulously researched. She captures a city and time that is lively, dangerous and politically charged, and makes it sing.

Readers will divine the good guys from the bad much faster than the likable and conscientious hero, but Rock's fine eye for historic detail and well-drawn characters will continue to engage readers long after they've put a name to the villain.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425236642
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/5/2010
  • Series: Charles du Luc Series , #1
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 820,814
  • Product dimensions: 5.06 (w) x 8.23 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Judith Rock has written on dance, art, and theology for many journals, and has been artist-in-residence and taught and lectured at colleges, seminaries, and conferences across the United States and abroad. After years in New York, she and her husband currently split their time between Louisville, Kentucky, and Sarasota, Florida.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

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(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Hoping there's a sequel

    Overall a great first book and I look forward to the next from this author. Former soldier and Jesuit in training Charles du Lac helps some Protestants (including a former love) escape King Louis XIV's dragoons. When his cousin the Bishop of Marseilles finds out, he arranges Charles to be transferred to Paris to teach rhetoric and assist in directing dance at the prestigious Louis Le Grand. On his first day one of the dancers leaves class and is later found murdered. Charles was a likeable protagonist, kind and good-hearted. He tried to do the right thing regardless of religious or legal restrictions. He had a natural curiosity coupled with intelligence that served the plot well and the accusations against him were a good reason to have him involved in the investigation. The secondary characters were fairly well formed. I especially liked the baker's wife and her young daughter. The historical information in the book was interesting as well. I'm not that familiar with France during this time period so I can't swear how well researched it was, but it was interesting enough I was looking up Wikipedia entries to get more information on Louis XIV and the dragoons.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 12, 2010

    Enjoying immensely

    So engaging, riding the countryside of France, running through the narrow streets of Paris....thanks.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 16, 2010

    Fabulous historical mystery

    I have always enjoyed historical fiction and mysteries, and this book fit right in. The difference between this book and other books is once I started reading it, I found myself finding time that I didn't have to read. The characters were interesting and I felt attached to them right away. The fact that all the mystery and intrigue was happening while they were trying to put on a ballet and tradegy just added to the story. Definitely a must read for anyone who likes mystery, historical fiction, theater, or reading about interesting characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Bridget's Review

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The plot was engaging and the characters were memorable. Judith's writing style is unique and addicting. I would give this book five stars.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2011

    Inconsistencies abound in this book

    Although it's clear the author has researched the era in which the story takes place, she is not able to find a consistent rhythm or flow of words and ideas with which to describe it. The location may be France, but aside from a "Mon Dieu" or "petite" so-and-so interspersed on the pages, there's little to bring the reader -- particularly one who may be hungry for what's been offered as historical fiction -- into life as it was then lived. I felt the author took individual "index cards," (or the computer equivalent),each with a "French fact" on it, shuffled them and randomly inserted them throughout the story. It was tedious reading that left me with no fondness or enlarged understanding of any of the characters or, even more unfortunately perhaps, a desire to read the sequel I understand is available now.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted July 1, 2011

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    Posted January 28, 2011

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    Posted January 21, 2011

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    Posted December 27, 2010

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