Read The Madonna of Notre Dame Online

Authors: Alexis Ragougneau,Katherine Gregor

Tags: #Crime Fiction, #Thriller & Suspense, #Literature & Fiction, #Noir, #Mystery, #Literary, #Police Procedurals, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Literary Fiction, #Crime

The Madonna of Notre Dame

BOOK: The Madonna of Notre Dame
10.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
The Madonna of Notre Dame
Alexis Ragougneau & Katherine Gregor
New Vessel Press (2016)
Rating: ★★★★☆
Tags: Literature & Fiction, Literary, Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, Mystery, Police Procedurals, Thrillers & Suspense, Crime, Literary Fiction, Crime Fiction, Noir
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Fifty thousand believers and photo-hungry tourists jam into Notre Dame Cathedral on August 15 to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption. The next morning, a stunningly beautiful young woman clothed all in white kneels at prayer in a cathedral side chapel. But when an American tourist accidentally bumps against her, her body collapses. She has been murdered: the autopsy reveals disturbing details. Police investigators and priests search for the killer as they discover other truths about guilt and redemption in this soaring Paris refuge for the lost, the damned, and the saved. The suspect is a disturbed young man obsessed with the Virgin Mary who spends his days hallucinating in front of a Madonna. But someone else knows the true killer of the white-clad daughter of Algerian immigrants. This thrilling novel illuminates shadowy corners of the world’s most famous cathedral, shedding light on good and evil with suspense, compassion and wry humor.



"Arresting ... The devastating truth proves that the line between good and evil isn't always clear."—
Publishers Weekly

“Thrilling until the last page, an unforgettable investigator, real life characters: The French crime novel has found its new pope.”—
RTL Television

“Alexis Ragouneau demonstrates indisputable talent and promise as a crime writer and novelist.”—
Le Point

“With vigorous writing, Alexis Ragougneau sweeps us away on a high-flying investigation.”—
Le Monde

“The investigation delves into the painful pasts of the protagonists, taking us behind masks and appearances, oscillating between light and darkness. The style is racy, the humor subtle.”—

"Impeccable drama and the characters are first-rate."—

About the Author

Alexis Ragougneau is a playwright and
The Madonna of Notre Dame
is his first novel. He has worked in Notre Dame Cathedral helping monitor the tourist crowds and knows well its infinite secrets and the forgotten souls who linger in its darkest corners.

Katherine Gregor has translated works by Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt, Andrea Japp, Luigi Pirandello, Carlo Goldoni and Alexander Pushkin.  


First published in French in 2014 as
La Madone de Notre-Dame

Copyright © 2014 Éditions Viviane Hamy

Translation Copyright © 2016 Katherine Gregor

All rights reserved. Except for brief passages quoted in a newspaper, magazine, radio, television, or website review, no part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Publisher.

Cover design: Liana Finck

Book design: Beth Steidle

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Ragougneau, Alexis

[La Madone de Notre-Dame. English]

The Madonna of Notre Dame/ Alexis Ragougneau; translation by Katherine Gregor.

p. cm.

ISBN 978-1-939931-39-9

Library of Congress Control Number 2016908534

I. France – Fiction


This novel mainly takes place in Notre Dame de Paris, hence the locations described will sound familiar both to the cathedral regulars and to occasional visitors.

However, the events and characters portrayed in this story are fictional.








. I
. S
stuff this time. Big.”

His shoulder wedged in the doorway, a huge bunch of keys hanging at the end of his arm, the guard watched the sacristan fuss around, open all the sacristy cupboards, and pull out rags, sponges, silverware polish, while muttering expletives of his own composition at regular intervals.

“Gérard, are you listening? You should take a look, really. Fifteen years on the job, I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s enough to blow up the whole cathedral.”

Gérard interrupted his search and finally appeared to take an interest in the guard. The latter had just hung the keys on a single nail stuck in the sacristy paneling.

“Later on, if you like, I’ll go see. Is that all right? Are you happy?”

“What’s going on today, Gérard? Haven’t you got time for important things anymore?”

“Look, you’re starting to really piss me off. Thirty years I’ve been working here and it’s the same thing every year: every August fifteenth they have to make a goddamn mess in the sacristy. And I can never find anything the next day. I have to spend
two hours cleaning up. I don’t understand why it has to be so difficult. They arrive, they put on their vestments, they do their procession and their Mass next door, they come back, they take off their vestments, and see you next year ... Why do they have to go rummaging in the cupboards?”

“Tell me, Gérard, what have you lost?”

“My gloves. My box of gloves for the silverware. If I don’t have them I wreck my hands with their shitty products.”

“You want me to help you look? I’ve got time—just finished opening up.”

“Don’t worry, here, found them. I don’t know why it’s so hard to put things back where they belong, I mean, Jesus H. Christ ...”

The guard fumbled in his pocket, inserted coins into the slit of the coffee machine, and pushed a button. He signaled goodbye to the sacristan and then, a steaming cup in his hand, started to walk back to the interior of the cathedral. Gérard caught up with him in the corridor.

“So tell me about your bomb ... Worth seeing?”

“The works, I promise: the ticktock, the time switch, and the sticks of dynamite.”

“OK, I’ll go see later, before the nine o’clock Mass. Might still be there. Where’s your explosive device again?”

“In the ambulatory, outside the chapel of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows. You’ll see—impossible to miss.”

The nave was slowly beginning to fill with its daily stream of tourists. Between eight and nine in the morning, they were mostly from the Far East: Notre Dame was the opening number on a program that would subsequently lead them, within the same day, to the Louvre, Montmartre, the Eiffel Tower, the Opéra, and the stores on Boulevard Haussmann.

Gérard pushed his cart loaded with cardboard boxes, stopping outside every side chapel. With a mechanical gesture, he
would cut around the base of every box, then lift the lid, revealing a stack of candles with a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which he would then immediately place in the tailor-made stands. Above the candle dispenser was written, in luminous letters and several languages: your offering is entirely up to you. The suggested donation was five euros. Then, with an equally weary gesture, he would empty the neighboring metal racks where, the previous day, several hundred candles had burned down over the course of hours, giving way to a new row of votive candles, prayers, and words of hope addressed to the Virgin Mary. A little later, another member of the staff would come and empty the collection boxes full of coins and banknotes into secure canvas sacks. There were similar stands with candles all over the cathedral, placed in strategic locations, at the base of statues, at the foot of crucifixes, in chapels devoted to private prayer. The morning promised to be a long one, and the fifteen years that stood between him and retirement a long road paved with tens of thousands of cardboard boxes, each filled with candles with a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

BOOK: The Madonna of Notre Dame
10.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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