A novel of political intrigue set in late-nineteenth-century Paris follows American historian Henry Adams as he searches for a young American woman whose disappearance is linked to French interests in the Panama Canal
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Eric Zencey is a professor of history at Goddard College in Vermont.From Publishers Weekly:
This is that extremely rare find, a first novel that is not only extremely accomplished but also quite unlike anything else. It daringly places a real person?American historian and philosopher Henry Adams?into a historic situation?the scandal in 1892 Paris over the corrupt collapse of the grand Panama Canal plan?and makes of it a dashing, sometimes touching and, yes, thoughtful thriller. Adams is sketched quickly and deftly: enterprising, sensitive, observant, still mourning the suicide of his wife years earlier, half in love with beautiful Elizabeth Cameron. We see him briefly in Panama, stealing a picture that will come to be significant; at Mont Saint-Michel and Chartres (naturally), where he is much taken with a young American painter, Miriam, who seems like a new breath in his life, and to whom he becomes quickly, quixotically attached; finally in Paris, where Miriam instantly disappears, is perhaps dead. At once, Adams begins to search for her, becoming involved with Parisian police, including a fledgling fingerprint expert and his young nephew; a coroner is killed, a macabre gift arrives for Adams via a pneumatique and the political plot around the Panama scandal, which could bring down a government and create a new one, thickens. At the heart of it all, Adams barges ahead like a gallant detective with the mind of an aesthete; through his eyes Paris, on the brink of the modern age, has never seemed stranger or more alluring, its people more enigmatic. That Zencey can create a headlong read, with a piercing climax and a poignant final note, out of such esoteric material is almost miraculous. A wonderful debut. 100,000 first printing; BOMC and QPB selections.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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