The Black Tower Audiobook | Louis Bayard | Audible.com
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The Black Tower | [Louis Bayard]

The Black Tower

Dr. Hector Carpentier leads a very quiet life, until he meets legendary police officer Vidocq, who has used his mastery of disguise and surveillance and his extensive knowledge of the Parisian underworld to capture some of the most notorious and elusive criminals.
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Publisher's Summary

From the acclaimed author of The Pale Blue Eye, this literary thriller features Eugène Vidocq, a criminal who transformed himself into the world's first and greatest detective.

After the execution of Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI, and the death of their son, the Dauphin, the Bourbon monarchy has at last been restored.

Dr. Hector Carpentier leads a very quiet life, until he meets legendary police officer Vidocq, who has used his mastery of disguise and surveillance and his extensive knowledge of the Parisian underworld to capture some of the most notorious and elusive criminals. Now, with the help of Carpentier, Vidocq may prove that the Dauphin lives, which could change the course of history.

©2008 Louis Bayard; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (250 )
5 star
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3.9 (97 )
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Story
4.1 (96 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Booksmith Florida 09-10-08
    Booksmith Florida 09-10-08 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Truly Engaging and Clever"

    I loved this book! Colorful, intriguing characters that come to life. You feel as if you are there in the middle of all this. And the twists!!! You never see them coming! I hope the author writes more with these characters as they are sure to become a favorite among those that adore historical, clever, intelligent detective novels. My ONLY eyebrow raise is the narrators attempt at a woman's voice, it falls a bit flat, but he is a perfect voice for the story overall.

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Therese Calgary, AB, Canada 12-05-09
    Therese Calgary, AB, Canada 12-05-09 Member Since 2008
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    "Louis Bayard: The Black Tower"

    A brilliant reading by Simon Vance whose beautiful and expressive voice brings the story-and the marvelous characters, to life. Carpentier and "Vidocq" are a partnership worthy of Dickens. Genuinely mysterious, vivid, comic.. absorbing from beginning to end. One of the very best on audio.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lemons40 Virginia, USA 11-03-08
    Lemons40 Virginia, USA 11-03-08 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Superb"

    Louis Bayard has written yet another exceptional historical novel. Perhaps even more than with his previous, the main characters are very, very well drawn. The story is fast paced and the details are fascinating.
    Simon Vance is a treasure whose skills as a narrator ('narrator' is an insufficient term, 'performer' may be closer to the mark) must be protected at all costs! He, Roy Dotrice, Barbara Rosenblatt and only a few others are in a category all unto themselves.
    In this work, Mr. Vance breathes life into characters (Vidocq in particular) already well defined by Mr. Bayard.
    A truly great story and a truly great narrator.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jana Zephyrhills, FL, United States 10-19-09
    Jana Zephyrhills, FL, United States 10-19-09 Member Since 2007
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    "Good but not Great"

    This audiobook was well worth a credit and my time - enjoyed it quite a lot. A couple of things that were quirky for me: It's set in 1818, but written recently (although I didn't realize that when I started listening to it). Since I've listened to a lot of books written in 19th century, when I started this book, at first I thought the writer very clever, but then when the dialog contained modern swearing, I realized that this is a modern interpretation of a mystery that happened at that time. And a good mystery it is, although the climax is too sensational for me.

    The story is set in France with many references to that time and royalty and revolution, which sent me to Wikipedia to clarify some references in the story (this is not a bad thing for me, but be aware).

    Simon Vance acted all the parts (mostly all french) with his usual brillance, however, he doesn't attempt a french accent other than with the many french names (which I thought he did great with). So, a lower class french character gets a lower class English accent. I just had to remind myself in the beginning that this was set in Paris, not London.

    This isn't a fast paced action packed thriller, but a mystery with more than enough interesting characters brought to life by Vance with enough plot and historical references to make the listen interesting and enjoyable.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Phoenix, AZ, United States 01-03-14
    Susan Phoenix, AZ, United States 01-03-14 Member Since 2008

    A devout Audible junkie. Gotta have a book going all of the time, working, driving . . . LOVE my audio books.

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    "Outstanding historical mystery!!!!"
    Any additional comments?

    Brings one of history's great mysteries to life with fully realized characters that I came to care about. Suspenseful and moving, and read by one of the very best narrators in the business, Simon Vance, the story delves into the puzzle of France's Anastasia-like Lost Dauphin. So happy to have stumbled onto this author!!! Excellent in every way.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dubi New York, NY, United States 12-31-13
    Dubi New York, NY, United States 12-31-13 Member Since 2011

    People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.

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    "Neither History Nor Mystery"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    This historical novel needs more historical context -- lots more. I cannot imagine following the story in the least were I not a student of the French Revolution back in college. But even for me, that was a third of a century ago, and I would have loved to be reminded of some of the details that I have long since forgotten. But I actually do remember Robespierre, Marat, the Jacobins, the Conciergerie, the Temple, and what Thermidor is. None of these names or places or months of the year, dropped on a regular basis, are ever explained by the author. On a broader scale, the story taking place during the Restoration and harking back to the Reign of Terror, how is a casual reader supposed to understand the context of those eras, and how France progressed from the Revolution to the Terror to Napoleon and then the Restoration? I suppose the casual reader could gloss over the lack of background if the characters and the mystery that drive the story line were compelling enough, but alas, they were not -- but I can't provide the background to support that assertion without spoilers. Suffice it to say that some reveals come way too early and others arrive late in the game yet are inconsequential or out of the blue, or both. The cardinal sin of mystery writing is to not give the reader a chance to anticipate those reveals or at least have a vested interest in them, especially the identity of the murderer, as well as other twists, and this book is most definitely guilty of committing that sin several times over. But the bottom line is that it is supposed to be a historical novel, and the history is just not there.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Louis Bayard? Why or why not?

    Yes. Despite my frustrations with this book, I found the writing sophisticated enough to give the author another chance in another subject area.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Simon Vance?

    Yes. The narrator was good. Although I would be remiss in not complaining that a novel written by an American about the French was narrated with an English accent. It is cliche to use British accents for non-English speakers speaking in English in a book or movie. As a counterpoint, the accent used in Slumdog Millionaire is an Indian accent -- if accents were going to be used here, why not French? On top of that, switching to a lower-class English accent for lower-class characters was almost a bit nasty. On top of which, the character Vidocq, in real life, was not of the lower classes, so why give him a Cockney accent?


    Was The Black Tower worth the listening time?

    All told, the answer would have to be no, it was not worth it. Too frustrating, given the lack of historical detail and the lack of mystery in the mystery story.


    Any additional comments?

    In the same vein as the lack of historical detail, I was quite surprised to learn about halfway through the novel that one of the central characters, Vidocq, was a real person. The book didn't clue me in -- it occurred to me at that point to check, and not only was he real, but he is considered the father of modern detective and police techniques. The simple fact that he was a real life policeman casts his character in a totally different light, and I'm shocked that the author would not make an effort to let readers know. In fact, that is true of a number of characters -- if you don't know in advance who is real and who is fictional, then, well, you don't know, and how exactly is that supposed to work in a piece of historical fiction? I still don't know which of the Barons and Marquis and such were real or fictional, nor am I inclined at this juncture to try to find out.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TravisD Denver, CO 02-28-13
    TravisD Denver, CO 02-28-13 Member Since 2007

    Travis

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    "Really, Really Well-Done"

    Loved this and couldn't stop listening. So well-researched and written. Buy, read, and be amazed as the story unfolds.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cat63 08-06-10
    Cat63 08-06-10 Member Since 2008
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    "A gem"

    If not the best audiobook I have ever listened to and I've listened to a good number, certainly in the top 5. Combining a natural, seemingly effortless writing style that delivers lively, intelligent conversations as well as the protagonists personal thought process along with a thrilling story [if you like historical fiction] this book kept me always wanting to hear more. The narration was lively and well done. If you wanted to nit pick you could find fault in the fact that the narrator did not effect a French accent [all the characters are French] so all the lower class types tended to have sort of a Cockney accent [at least I think that's what a Cockney accent sounds like]. I find that when non French speaking people try to do French accents it just comes out sounding dopey so I don't regret his decision to stick to the English version.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    02-11-09
    02-11-09 Member Since 2005
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    "Excellent"

    This starts slowly but moves at a seady pace. The style is a bit wordy but as i got into it it became a true literary masterpiece. Highly recommended.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda Los Alamos, NM, United States 02-02-11
    Amanda Los Alamos, NM, United States 02-02-11 Member Since 2010
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    "pure pleasure"

    Every word is pure pleasure and Vance is simply sublime. If mystery and history are your thing this story will stay with you and be there to listen to over and over again whenever you need the company of an old friend.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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