Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Musketeer's Apprentice - Sarah D'Almeida



The Musketeer’s Apprentice
A Musketeers Mystery
Sarah D’Almeida
Berkley Prime Crime

Mystery/Historical

The musketeer Porthos would seem to be a man impervious to almost anything. He’s taller, wider, and stronger than most other men; and his skill as a swordsman is known far and wide. His one weakness is his vanity. And when the twelve-year-old son of a minor noble plays on that vanity, saying he wishes to be taught by a master, Porthos allows himself to be swayed.

The truth is, the boy, one Guillaume Jaucourt, first tried his hand at a rather clumsy blackmail proposal, but quickly turned to flattery. The boy took the lessons very seriously, never missing one, never arriving late. Porthos realized that the boy was taking the lessons in secret, but was of the opinion that a young man living in Paris in these uncertain times would do well to have a bit of skill with a sword.

So it is that when Guillaume fails to appear for a lesson, Porthos is very worried about him. Never good at waiting around, but not knowing where the boy lives, Porthos uses clues from previous conversations to trace the boy’s path to their practice room. Porthos finds the boy lying in an alley, face red, eyes bright, babbling about angels flying. By the time he gets the lad back to the practice room, he’s dead. Porthos suspects poison. It’s clear that he needs the rest of his friends (Athos, Aramis, and D’Artagnan) to discover what happened to the boy.

Porthos’ arrival at the office of Monsieur de Treville, the captain of the musketeers causes quite a stir, not least for his pallor and general air of shock. Closeted in the captain’s office with Athos and Aramis, the talk turns to the true motive of the boy. While Porthos maintains that the boy had a sincere interest in sword fighting, the others wonder if he might have been sent to Porthos by the devious Cardinal Richelieu. After all, it’s not likely that the son of a minor noble, recently arrived in Paris, would know the details of Porthos’ past. Given the papers found on the boy, it begins to look more and more like some kind of set-up. Whatever the case, the musketeers are determined to discover the truth. And Porthos wants vengeance for the dead boy.

Based on the characters created by Alexandre Dumas, this series continues to excel. If you haven’t read THE THREE MUSKETEERS, or the first two installments of this series, DEATH OF A MUSKETEER and THE MUSKETEER’S SEAMSTRESS, you’ll have no problem jumping in at this point. The author takes great care to introduce each of the characters, along with pertinent background. Written in a voice and style consistent with Dumas’ original, each novel in this series delves deeper into the lives of the musketeers. A wealth of historical detail makes the time come to life. This series should delight any fan of historical mysteries.

Rating: 7 ½
September 2007
ISBN# 978-0-425-21769-6 (paperback)

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