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Bitter Draughts: a novel of Paris...with murders (The Paris Trilogy)
by Yves Fey

Published: 2022-03-26T00:0
Paperback : 302 pages
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Paris 1898—the fin de siècle, a turbulent era when passions run as high as prejudice. In the midst of the infamous Dreyfus Affair, as anti-Semitic riots erupt all over Paris, Inspecteur Michel Devaux has a baffling murder to solve. Is it a crime of politics or a crime of passion? As death ...
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Introduction

Paris 1898—the fin de siècle, a turbulent era when passions run as high as prejudice. In the midst of the infamous Dreyfus Affair, as anti-Semitic riots erupt all over Paris, Inspecteur Michel Devaux has a baffling murder to solve. Is it a crime of politics or a crime of passion? As death follows death, Devaux traces their tangled threads from the privileged classes to the seamy Paris underworld. Help comes from unlikely sources: a crime lord, a clairvoyant, a crazy woman who feeds the cemetery cats, and an old friend from the Foreign Legion. Devaux’s calm harbor amid chaos is his friendship with the talented, beautiful American artist, Theodora Faraday. But as he struggles with his own horrific past, Devaux is reluctant to accept her help—because he's falling in love with her.

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Excerpt

Chapter One Excerpt – Bitter Draughts
Moral wounds have this peculiarity—
they may be hidden, but they never close…
always ready to bleed when touched,
they remain fresh and open in the heart.
Alexandre Dumas
Michel Devaux woke at the soft click of the door opening and lay silent and unmoving. He knew at once he was safe, lying in Lilias’ bed, but he wouldn’t have survived long as a legionnaire or a detective if he’d been oblivious to faint sounds. The soft scuffles were the maid, come to revive the waning fire. Allowing himself to drowse, he inhaled the aroma of applewood smoke that drifted toward him. He always left Lilias before sunrise—easy enough in January. For a courtesan of her stature to have an affair with a police detective, a common flic, was déclassé and might diminish her appeal to her wealthy clientele. Still, she’d granted him her favors for over a year now. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

How is the Dreyfus scandal similar to or different from the division in current politics? In what ways are the involvement of the Church, the Army, and the Police different or the same?

Prejudice takes many forms. How do society’s biases effect Solange, Zeb, Michel, Theo, and Averill? What of the characters own biases? Where are they aware and where are they blind?

Women did not get the right vote in France until 1944, but the French often idolized women who defied convention. What differences do you perceive towards women’s emotional independence in Theo, Carmine, Solange, and Lilias? How much do they defy, accept, or exploit society’s expectations?

What path do you envision for Theo as an artist? She comes of age in a world with decades of cultural and artistic innovation and considers herself a modern artist in a modern world. But “Modern Art” was born with Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon in 1907. How do you think she will respond to the new art movements that are barely a decade away?

Which of the murderers do you find the most reprehensible? Which the most sympathetic?

Very little information is available about the clairvoyant, Léonie Leboulanger, but she was the original source of Alfred Dreyfus’ knowledge of the secret document held by the Army. Captain Dreyfus was cruelly confined and overzealously guarded on Devil’s Island. Communications were severely restricted. Can you imagine any way in which she could have come by her knowledge other than her psychic abilities? To what purpose?

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