The Officer’s Prey-Armand Cabasson; translated by Michael Glencross

The Officer’s Prey
Armand Cabasson; translated by Michael Glencross
Gallic Books, Oct 15 2013, $15.95
ISBN: 9781906040826

In the summer of 1812, the French army reaches the Niemen River, the border between their ally the Grand Duchy of Warsaw and their target Russia on their march to Moscow. Emperor Napoleon’s stepson Prince Eugène de Beauharnais orders Captain Quentin Margont to see him immediately. Leaving his unit Margont reports as directed to the prince at the camp headquarters.

In nearby Tresno, Poland someone, most likely a French officer, butchered Maria Dorlovna, a woman of German and Polish ancestry. The Prince fears the reactions by their two allies and the troops once word spreads that an unknown French officer tortured and killed a woman, and murdered a military peer. Given no choice a reluctant Margont begins his investigation with limited information to identify the culprit and report the name to the Prince. He must do so discreetly to avoid scandal and with much of the evidence buried. As the army continues to head to Moscow, other similar brutal homicides of women occur.

This Napoleonic Wars mystery is a great historical whodunit that places a strong investigation inside of a vividly described over-confident unprepared French Army heading into disaster. The protagonist is fabulous as he (and others) recognize the calamity that awaits the Grand Army in Russia while seeking a murderous needle in a haystack of soldiers widely spread around.

Harriet Klausner

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