The Napoleonic Wars have always fascinated me and historical fiction is my second favorite genre – next to military history. The Officer’s Prey by Armand Cabasson combines the two genres in the first book in a murder mystery series.
The book is set during Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812. Quentin Margont, the protagonist, is an officer in the Grand Army who is tasked with a secret mission to find and stop a sadistic colonel in the Army who is murdering women during the campaign.
Cabasson brings this brutal campaign from the pages of history into the reader’s mind. He captures the sights and sounds of an army at war. The battle descriptions are vivid and visceral. For example, Cabasson describes the brutal guerrilla warfare between Russian partisans and the French by depicting a scene where no mercy was given by either side.
Underlying the war, Cabasson develops the characters. Margont is an idealist who grows weary of the war and Napoleon’s ideals. He is joined by Sergeant Lefine, a curmudgeonly man who serves Margont loyally even though Margont seems to get him in some tight binds. The two are joined by a cast of French officers and soldiers who suffer through the fighting.
Cabasson also connects the reader with the sick mind of a psychopath. The murderer is a demented and egotistical maniac. Cabasson gives the reader enough information to get the reader intrigued, but does not reveal the murderer until Margont discovers who he is.
The book is a spellbinding look at murder in the Napoleonic Age.