Vidocq. The name strikes terror in the Parisian underworld of 1818. As founder and chief of a newly created plainclothes police force, Vidocq has used his mastery of disguise and surveillance to capture some of Franceâ€™s most notorious and elusive criminals. Now he is hot on the trail of a tantalizing mysteryâ€”the fate of the young dauphin Louis-Charles, son of Marie-Antoinette and King Louis XVI.
Hector Carpentier, a medical student, lives with his widowed mother in her once-genteel home, now a boardinghouse, in Parisâ€™s Latin Quarter, helping the family make ends meet in the politically perilous days of the restoration. Three blocks away, a man has been murdered, and Hectorâ€™s name has been found on a scrap of paper in the dead manâ€™s pocket: a case for the unparalleled deductive skills of EugÃ¨ne FranÃ§ois Vidocq, the most feared man in the Paris police. At first suspicious of Hectorâ€™s role in the murder, Vidocq gradually draws him into an exhilaratingâ€”and dangerousâ€”search that leads them to the true story of what happened to the son of the murdered royal family.