Bitter Draughts

A novel of Paris...with murders

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
302 Pages
Reviewed on 08/18/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Teresa Syms for Readers' Favorite

Bitter Draughts by Yves Fey is the sequel to Floats the Dark Shadow. The author transports the reader to 1898 in Paris where Theodora Faraday and Detective Michel Devaux find themselves in the heart of murder, gang wars, and anti-Semitic riots caused by the Dreyfus Affair. Theo is an aspiring artist who battles the stigma of women having careers, her feelings for her former lover, and her growing feelings for Michel. She finds herself caught between crime lords and the French police after she is forced to kill her friend. Michel is battling his own demons; his need to escape his past in the Foreign Legion after hunting down and killing his evil cousin Luc. While Michel is trying to solve two bizarre murders, his Legionnaire friend Zeb appears on the scene. They rekindle their friendship, but the unknown always surrounds Zeb and his past. In this intricately woven novel involving the occult, prejudice, organized crime, and art, the reader will find themselves transported back in time and on the edge of their seat, wondering if Michel will solve the murders before another assassination takes place.

Bitter Draughts is an exceptionally well-constructed novel highlighting the lives of many people in the social strata of France in 1898. Yves Fey has penned a captivating novel with intricately linked characters involved in a tangled web of crime lords, murder, anti-Semitic riots, kidnapping, lies, and the hidden passions of love and sex. As each new character is introduced the reader will develop a vision of the individual, right down to a crazy cat woman who knows and sees most of what occurs on the back streets of Paris. Fey’s plot and story development are to be applauded. As the book progresses the storyline becomes a complex web, but the reader will be drawn into the story and will not want to come up for air. The scenes give the reader a solid sense of what life was like in historical France when the famous Moulin Rouge was operational. I was totally captivated by this book and highly recommend you pick up your copy today. Congratulations to Yves Fey on a very successful, entertaining book.

K.C. Finn

Bitter Draughts is a work of fiction in the historical subgenre and serves as the sequel to Floats the Dark Shadow. It is suitable for the general reading audience and was penned by author Yves Fey. The book continues the story of detective Michel Devaux as he takes on a strange killing in the midst of anti-Semitic riots that are rocking the city. As Devaux dives deeper into the mystery he finds allies in the strangest of places, but most frequently from his friend, the artist Theodora Faraday. However, his willingness to let her help him is hindered by his growing affections and the trauma he thought he’d put behind him.

It’s always a delight to pick up a sequel to a book you enjoyed and find that it manages to live up to the daunting legacy of the first; building on the established characters by pushing them in new directions, expanding on the established world in a logical way, and progressing a wider narrative whilst telling a story that stands on its own merits. Fortunately for readers, author Yves Fey’s talents as an author have only grown stronger since the last installment, with gorgeous prose quickly breathing life into Paris and its inhabitants as a new mystery beckons to Michel Devaux. The mystery at the center of the story was very well realized and kept me guessing right up until the resolution, and the catalyst that it provides to Devaux and Faraday’s relationship was excellent. Overall, Bitter Draughts is an outstanding entry into an already excellent series, and it left me hungry for the final installment in the trilogy.

Vincent Dublado

Bitter Draughts by Yves Fey is the profound and hypnotic crime mystery sequel to Floats the Dark Shadow. The year is 1898, and the period is indeed a stage for the dark, brooding impulses of the human psyche. A new problem is brewing in Paris as the Dreyfus Affair clouds Paris and threatens to divide the entire nation, as Captain Dreyfus, publicly degraded, is accused of selling military secrets to the Germans. Detective Michel Devaux receives information that Etienne Lauzier, a fervent voice and editor of the liberal journal, La Voix de la Republique, is missing. As the country devolves into hatred against the Dreyfusards, more people will go missing and more bodies will be found—and the worse is yet to come from the Anti-Dreyfusards.

As a mystery novel, Bitter Draughts is effectively dark, foreboding, and thought-provoking. Yves Fey conjures a powerful setting and time period where you get the notion that you get the robust cultural progress of Paris, yet it harbors bigotry that is better left untold. Fey’s narrative has that classic tone reminiscent of Victorian writers. As her words permeate your veins, you become immersed in the plot and put yourself in the shoes of the protagonists. After reading this novel, you will be impressed by how it consistently manages to keep you turning the pages for more. Despite having a Sherlockian vibe to it, it doesn’t run on the same Holmes and Watson storyline. It is a study of a thoroughly progressive society that is rotting from within. This is an intelligent must-read story that will not disappoint even the most hard-to-please mystery fans.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Bitter Draughts by Yves Fey is the sequel to Floats The Dark Shadow. It’s 1898 and artist Theodora Faraday and Detective Michel Devaux are both on the hunt for a killer whose targets are innocent children. At the same time, antisemitic riots flood Paris, and the Dreyfus case is front and center, making life difficult for the detective. As Theo and Michel investigate, the bodies are piling up and the tension is rising. As they stalk the seamy Paris underbelly, the pair must unravel the murderous threads but help comes from places they least expect. Michel isn’t just hunting a murderer, though; he’s also facing down his own demons and everything is about to clash in one explosive showdown. Can they find the murderer? Can Michel fight his rising feelings for Theo? And will he ever come to terms with his own terrifying past?

Bitter Draughts by Yves Fey is a great historical murder mystery set in the late 1800s. It’s not just murder; it’s a thriller with a bit of the occult, plenty of mystery, and some romance thrown in to sweeten the deal. It’s not really suitable for younger readers due to the language and violence – not much and only where needed. Yves Fey has a way with words, writing in a descriptive style that draws you in, placing you right at the heart of the story. She has successfully combined a murder mystery with the turmoil of Paris in the 1800s, the Dreyfus case which threatened the fabric of French society, and the darkness of the Paris underground. While I believe in reading a series in order, this could be read as a standalone story. The characters are really well-developed, likable people with backstories that help you understand who they are, and the plot is unique, packed with action and tension that builds on every page. For those who like murder mysteries with a difference, this is the ideal book.

Pikasho Deka

Bitter Draughts is a historical fiction novel set in 1898 Paris. A sequel to Yves Fey's Floats the Dark Shadow, this murder mystery thriller is set during an era when the inhabitants of Paris were fiercely divided over the Dreyfus Affair, and anti-semitic riots threatened to overwhelm the city. After the unexpected murder of a pro-Dreyfus journalist Etienne Lauzier, Detective Michel Devaux once again finds himself thrust into investigating a high-profile case. But not everyone is happy with Michel's assignment, especially the Army. Meanwhile, Michel's friendship with American painter Theodora Faraday (Theo) becomes increasingly difficult as he develops strong feelings for her. While trying to capture Etienne's killer, another murder of one of Theo's close friends has Michel delving even deeper into a conundrum. Complicating matters further is that unbeknownst to Michel, someone close to him is preparing himself for a high-profile assassination.

Unlike most murder mystery thrillers, Bitter Draughts reveals the identity of the killers within a short span of time. What keeps your eyes glued to the pages are the characters and how they react and adapt themselves to circumstances beyond their control. Author Yves Fey incorporates real-life events and personalities by setting the story in 1898 Paris, using the Dreyfus Affair as a backdrop while the characters play out their assigned roles. Fey seamlessly captures the atmosphere of late 19th-century Paris, and you can't help but be mesmerized by the depictions of the city. Michel and Theo have a complex dynamic that adds drama to every scene they are in together. If you love historical fiction or murder mysteries, this is not something you want to miss out on.