Fraternite’ by Margaret Houston
Set in 1848 during a revolution-charged Paris, Fraternité follows Sebastian Duval, an undercover police officer who has infiltrated Paris’ slums to ferret out the leaders of an imminent revolution. He’s friends with whores, students, and printers, living in dismal conditions. When one whore he’s familiar with is murdered only hours after giving Sebastian a description of the customer that regularly beat and threatened her, Sebastian feels the need to bring her killer to justice. His investigation has him crossing lines, until the pull between duty and his need for justice.
At first glance, Fraternité is a rather straightforward murder mystery novel set in an explosive time period. I’m happy to say that this book is much more than that. There’s political intrigue, crooked politicians, and an illicit love interest. What I really enjoyed about this novel was the author’s attention to detail, and the effort she put in to getting the setting right. I felt like I was right there in France, could feel the tension from the lower classes about to overflow in violence. Houston’s ability to create and sustain tension throughout the novel kept me reading, almost more than finding out who killed the whore.
What I didn’t expect was the constant changes in perspective. While I don’t mind hearing from other characters, and in a novel like this, having multiple perspectives gives depth and adds more information to the story, there was an unfortunate, and often abrupt amount of head hopping. Some of the transitions between characters were distinguished by a page break or new chapter, but I found quite a few jarring instances where we’re suddenly in the mind of a new character, which jolted me from the story. However, all of the characters were well thought out and developed. I enjoyed the illicit lover, which added a completely different tension to the book, and really enjoyed getting to know Sebastian and watching him develop.
Despite this, Fraternité is well-written, with tension that will keep you turning pages, and an ending that is both drawn out and satisfactory.
My Rating: 4.1/5
If you’re interested in Fraternité you can buy it for $3.99 on Amazon.
Thanks for reading!