A Citizen of the Country

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( 72 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780345433022: A Citizen of the Country

"Stunning," raved the New York Times of Sarah Smith's first novel, The Vanished Child. USA Today called her second book, The Knowledge of Water, "as satisfying a mystery as the Mona Lisa's smile." Now the bestselling author of two New York Times Notable Books has created a new, intricately plotted story of intrigue, passion, love, and the most terrible of betrayals.

"My wife will murder me unless I murder her first."

In the ancient, bloody region of French Flanders looms Montfort castle, home of Count André du Monde, owner of a famous Paris horror theatre. To repair his fortunes, he marries an heiress. Sabine is young, blameless, beautiful, and rich, a perfect leading lady for André's first film--but the eccentric count suspects his wife is a practicing sorceress.

Then the Grand Necropolitan Theatre is suddenly stricken with disasters: an unexpected death, a puzzling disappearance, and the savage beating of lead actor Jules Fauchard.

André believes Sabine has placed him under a curse. No one believes him, not even his old friend, Alexander von Reisden. To watch over the couple, Reisden agrees to take a part in their film--and finds his own secrets threatened and his marriage becoming as poisoned as theirs.

Amid escalating tension, the players assemble at Montfort to begin filming André's movie. Then, within the deep medieval basements of Montfort, life and fiction intersect--as the Grand Necropolitan becomes a true theatre of horrors.

Filled with a host of unforgettable characters whose agendas tangle as secretly as the underground tunnels of Flanders, A Citizen of the Country is a compelling novel of desire, poisonous secrets, and love gone terribly wrong.

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Review:

"Murder didn't define Alexander Reisden anymore," the narrator declares coyly on the first page of Sarah Smith's A Citizen of the Country, the final installment of her Vanished Child trilogy. But the truth is that Reisden, former Austrian spy and protective new father, is perpetually haunted by the consequences of having murdered his grandfather at age 8. Set in Paris and Flanders just before the outbreak of World War I, A Citizen of the Country is an intricately plotted, maddeningly complex novel that may frustrate readers who expect mysteries to deliver a corpse before delving into an exploration of motives. In A Citizen of the Country, competing motives are palpable if peculiarly unattached to a definite crime. The first corpse doesn't show up until page 81, for example, but we know intimately many creepy people capable of having poisoned Mlle. Françoise.

Though A Citizen of the Country is unconventionally plotted (perhaps overplotted), it nevertheless spins a web of moral dilemmas that seem to trap the main characters between indecision and desire. The characters struggle mightily against the choices that their lives seem to impel them towards, and this is richly rewarding. In a novel brimming with deftly drawn personalities, André de Montfort is the most compelling. Shut in at age 5 with his parents' decomposing corpses during a cholera outbreak, André's personality is subsequently macabre and imbalanced. His alter-ego Necrosar writes and directs a horrifying meditation on Macbeth in which he casts childhood friend Reisden, adoptive father Cyron, and potentially treacherous Sabine, his wealthy, nubile wife. During the filming, which occupies the second half of the novel, a series of unexplained murders flummoxes Reisden, and lures his blind wife Perdita and toddler Toby into frightening proximity to blackmailers, thugs, and sorcerers. The novel's densely involved plots climax in the shocking death of one of the principals, which motivates the best sequence in the novel, a truly terrifying plunge into the claustrophobic, pitch-black tunnels burrowed beneath Arras, an ancient village. A Citizen of the Country amply rewards readers who savor a writhing plot bursting with hundreds of expertly culled historical details. --Kathi Inman Berens

From the Back Cover:

“Though full of authentic detail, this isn’t a typical ‘historical novel,’ but rather proof that certain human conditions–the public and private face of heroism, the complicated love we feel for family–are the same no matter the century.”
Entertainment Weekly (Editor’s Choice)

“Original, authentic, and engaging–combining warlike stirrings and the personal resurrection of the major characters in The Vanished Child and The Knowledge of Water.”
–AMANDA CROSS

“A master’s touch . . . Delicious fun . . . Think Poe, Agatha Christie, A Tale of Two Cities, and Chinatown, and you have an idea of the mix that Smith balances so delicately–and so well.”
The New York Post

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Book Description Ballantine Books, New York, 2000. Cloth. Book Condition: New. First edition. New. SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR, on the title page. Also includes a correction in the author's hand writing and erratum on page 406. Third novel by New York Times Notable Author. . Bookseller Inventory # 1895

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