In the icy winter of 1786, in the final years before the French Revolution, hunger, cold, and seething frustration with the iron grip of France’s absolute monarchy drive poor and rich alike to outright defiance. Slums, fashionable cafés, and even aristocratic mansions echo with discontent and the first warning signals of the approaching turmoil of 1789.
Paris’s cemeteries are foul and disease-ridden, but no one, including penniless writer Aristide Ravel, expects to find a man with his throat cut lying dead in a churchyard, surrounded by strange Masonic symbols. Already suspected of subversive activities, Ravel must now clear his name of murder. His search for answers amid the city’s literary and intellectual demimonde—with the aid of friends who may not be all that they seem—leads him into a tangle of conspiracy, secret societies, royal scandal, and imminent revolution, which grows only more complex when the corpse disappears . . .