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“A tale as twisted as any Agatha Christie murder mystery.”

—Deborah Blum—
Author of The Poisoner’s Handbook

The granddaughter of French immigrants and Professor of French History at Vanderbilt University, Holly Tucker writes extensively on true crime in early Europe. She lives in both Nashville, Tennessee and Aix-en-Provence, France, chronicling her adventures in the South and the South of France in her journal along the way.

Holly’s most recent book, City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris (W.W. Norton), follows the first police chief, Nicolas de la Reynie, as he works tirelessly to root out organized crime in the city only to find a cabal of poisoners, witches, and unholy priests whose dark works go all the way to the gilded halls of Louis XIV’s Versailles. From La Reynie’s personal notes, interrogation records, torture accounts, and other memoirs comes an unforgettable true account of wicked deeds and dark souls in the City of Light.


Receive regular updates from Holly with a behind-the-scenes look at life in France, research, and book publishing. In the lead-up to the release, Holly’s publisher will also be giving away copies of City of Light, City of Poison.

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 “Full of danger, mystery, and excitement, it will keep you up well into the night, marveling at this forgotten world of dark intrigue.”

Candice Millard
Author of Hero of the Empire

“At once bewitching and chilling, the dark story of toxic intrigue, murder, and mayhem in the Sun King’s France reads like the most gripping thriller, thanks to Holly Tucker’s storytelling flair and relentless research.”

Adrienne Mayor
Author of The Poison King

“With novelist verve, Holly Tucker conjures a fierce tale of conspiracy and retribution.”

Michael Sims
Author of Arthur and Sherlock

“A meticulous historian”

The Economist

Blood Work

Set in seventeenth-century London and Paris, Blood Work (W.W. Norton, 2011) is a story of political infighting, professional backstabbing, and the struggle to control the most powerful commodity in seventeenth-century Europe:  knowledge.

Ingenious, engaging, and disquieting…Tucker masterfully narrates a rich tale about the competing passions of faith, politics, and knowledge.” (Boston Globe)

Pregnant Fictions

How male medical authorities and female literary authors struggled to describe the inner workings of the unseen – and competed to shape public understanding of it – is the focus of this engaging work by Holly Tucker. In illuminating the gender politics . . .

Tucker does exemplary cultural history…this is a book from which any scholar with an interest in the tales of magic and gender can learn.” (Journal of American Folklore)

General Contact Information

W.W. Norton LogoMedia Inquiries
Erin Lovett, Publicity Director
EMAIL | 212-790-4388

Literary Agent
Faith Hamlin
Sanford J. Greenburger Associates
EMAIL | 212.206.5663

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Explore Holly's Journal

Paris Was a Great Place to Get Poisoned in the 17th Century

  In 1667, Paris was a filthy crime-ridden mess, and Nicolas de La Reynie was the man hired to clean it up. As Holly Tucker tells it in City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic and the First Police Chief of Paris, the state of the capital made the would-be glorious Sun King of France, Louis XIV, look bad, and he wanted it fixed. And so La Reynie was installed as...
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BookPage Interview

Holly Tucker's City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris tells a story so outlandish, one would be forgiven for thinking the book was historical fiction. But this tale of Parisian witches and possibly murderous noblewomen really did happen, and it rocked the foundation of one of the most powerful monarchies the world has ever...
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Review: Shelf Awareness

"Tucker's exposition is a true detective story of the finest kind....For anyone interested in the darker side of the Sun King's reign, City of Light, City of Poison will not disappoint." "The vivid true story of numerous murders by poison in Paris is set against the backdrop of Louis XIV's lush and sexually active reign."   [button...
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Finished Books Arrive

There are few things more MAGICAL than the day finished copies arrive. Publishers distribute galleys (also called ARCs) in advance of the finished book for reviewers and the media several months before the finished copies go to press. But the day the REAL THING shows up on your doorstep...so exciting! SIGN-UP FOR AUTHOR UPDATES & BOOK GIVEAWAYS Receive regular...
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A Letter Addressed to Madame Voisin

A letter addressed to Madame Voisin, a 17th-century fortune-teller/witch/poisoner. A young woman begs Voisin to cast a spell on her beloved so he will fall in love with her. Letters at the time were all of one piece. Writers folded their letters to create envelopes and then sealed them with wax. The letter was presented in a secret court hearing as evidence against her....
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