In this richly atmospheric novel, a mysterious young woman named Solange Vernet arrives in Aix-en-Provence with her lover, a Darwinian scholar named Charles Westbury, and a year later is found strangled in a quarry outside the city. The young and inexperienced magistrate, Bernard Martin, finds his investigation caught in the crossfires of a raging cultural debate.
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In the wake of the Dreyfus affair, the murder of two Jews in Lorraine reveals the darker side of human natureIn the wake of the Vernet murders in Aix-en-Provence, magistrate Bernard Martin moves to Lorraine, France, along with his pregnant wife, Claire, who is as fervent about Republican ideals as her husband. They are not there long when an infant boy is found dead, his tiny body mutilated. The wet nurse and mother say that this was a case of “ritual sacrifice” by a “wandering tinker,” or Jew.
On a sultry night in June 1897, Pyotr Ivanovich Balenov, a young Russian, and two young women transport a dead man through the narrow streets of a working-class neighborhood in northeastern Paris. They throw the body into the canal and the girls flee to the Latin Quarter to hide with one of the Russian's anarchist "comrades".