Assassin’s Rage

Assassin’s Rage by Charles O’Brien. The storm has finally broken. The previous six books in the Anne Cartier series have described events prior to French Revolution, but the current book opens with the fall of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. As the violence in Paris and its surrounding areas rages over the subsequent weeks, Anne and her husband, Colonel Paul de Saint-Martin of the Royal Highway Patrol, attempt to bring to justice those criminals using the unrest among the people to seek revenge and profit. Anne’s case involves the suspicious hanging of a local baker for profiteering while Paul investigates the deaths of members of the old regime. Eventually, they discover a common enemy; one who recognizes the danger they represent to his goals and who is ruthless in his efforts to gain power in the new government.

Paul and Anne’s dual adventures often overlap though her work usually involves civilians and their domestics whereas his concerns the military and government. O’Brien’s use of secondary characters is quite strong with Georges Charpentier, Paul’s adjutant, assisting both husband and wife and teaching Anne the field craft of a royal spy. Anne’s many contacts in Paris’ deaf community through Abbe de l’Epee are another defining aspect of the series. The city scenes, the mansions and palaces and the surrounding countryside are all described quite vividly. My only problem with the series is that things come too easily to the heroes. They seem to travel effortlessly around town and to the neighboring villages; they seem to always find time to dine elegantly at their home; and although their efforts to find justice can be frustrated occasionally by political realities, they never seem thwarted by their enemies. My feeling is that these turbulent times in French history would be a bit more gritty than they are presented in these books. Overall, they are good, relatively quick reads with nice pacing and the unique setting and use of real historical figures make them worthwhile.

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