A Time Travelers Notebook by Author Holly Tucker

New York Journal of Books Reviews City of Light

Mar 24, 2017 | Media, Reviews

One can always trust the police to be dogged and to keep voluminous records, though they’re not always accurate. Holly Tucker was able to write her new book—City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic and the First Police Chief of Paris—because Nicholas de La Reynie, the French top cop, keep his own records of his investigations into criminal matters in the 17th century. His boss, Louis XIV, burned the only other copy, probably to cover up the crimes that rocked his throne from about 1665 to 1670.

In that five-year period, the criminal and the civil lieutenant of Paris were both murdered, just a year a part. In 1665, Jacques Tardieu, the criminal lieutenant, was stabbed to death in the course of a home invasion, as it would be called these days. Two brothers, Rene and Francois Touchet were arrested, charged with murder, found guilty, and executed in public before a large crowd that watched the spectacle . . .

 

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Explore Holly's Journal

New York Times Declares City of Light “True Crime Book for the Beach”

If mystery novels appeal to the credulous child in me, true crime stories speak to my inner voyeur. In reading this current batch of books, I’ve walked alongside a prisoner on her way to her execution, learned how to poison a wineglass and watched a king’s mistress do away with her rival. And that’s only from the first book on my list: CITY OF LIGHT, CITY OF POISON:...
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The New Yorker Reviews City of Light!

CITY OF LIGHT, CITY OF POISON, by Holly Tucker (Norton). In 1667, Louis XIV, hoping to reduce crime in Paris, created a law-enforcement position—the lieutenant general of police—with sweeping powers of surveillance and detention. Tucker’s history focusses on the first incumbent, Nicolas de la Reynie, who built up a network of informants and discovered more than he’d...
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Torture. Sweeping police powers. Unlawful detention. Scandal at the highest level. We're talking about... Paris, roughly 340 years ago. In a remarkable new book, professor Holly Tucker tells the story of l'Affaire de les Poisons -- the Affair of the Poisons, which rocked France and put a target on King Louis XIV himself. Louis responded by appointing Paris' first police...
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Historical Novel Society Spellbound by City of Light, City of Poison

Paris in the late 17th century was not a place for the faint of heart. Despite the frightening ease with which you could be imprisoned without trial on the king’s command, the infamous lettre de cachet, crime, particularly at night, was rampant in the city. Paris was such a city of darkness in fact that it was in danger of becoming “an embarrassment” to the Sun King. In...
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Bookwitty Declares City of Light, City of Poison Engrossing & Appalling

Holly Tucker’s City of Light, City of Poison is a riveting tale of power, passion and toxic lovers set in seventeenth century Paris. Tucker’s account of what became known as The Affair of the Poisons may read like a novel but is built from her meticulous study of historical documents and includes scintillating excerpts from court documents, memoirs, letters and records...
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