A Man in Uniform is a terrific book. It starts quietly and builds into an exciting story so filled with suspense that it is at times both unbearable to continue reading and unbearable to stop reading.
The novel is set in France during the 1890s, the period between France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War and the start of World War I. Politics in France are tense and fractious when, in 1894, the French government is hit by a major scandal: The Dreyfus Affair. Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish military officer, is convicted of treason - providing military documents to a German attache - and placed in solitary confinement on Devil's Island in French Guiana.
The protagonist in A Man in Uniform finds himself investigating Dreyfus' conviction. Francois Dubon is a lawyer who, while politically active as a young man, is now middle-aged with a legal practice confined to estate matters, an aristocratic wife with family in the upper ranks of the military, and a full-time mistress. Into Dubon's carefully orchestrated and segregated life (his in-laws would be appalled to learn about the politics of his youth) comes a mysterious client, a widow.
The widow, an attractive woman, asks Dubon to assist her in proving the innocence of a friend's husband who has been wrongfully convicted of a crime. The man she seeks to help is Alfred Dreyfus.
Charmed by the widow, Attorney Dubon takes the case. His investigation leads him into the military's covert operations office, searching for the secrets that may help Alfred Dreyfus obtain a new trial. And as the plot unfolds, Dubon's work intersects with his personal life, uncovering new facts about his family, friends, and French bourgeois society - and murder.
A Man in Uniform is a suspenseful story set during an interesting period of history. It's a highly recommended read.
Friday, April 1, 2011
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