Related to This Book

Other Sites

City of Light, City of Poison

Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris

Holly Tucker (Author, Vanderbilt University)

Overview | Formats

“Tucker writes with gusto . . . high drama.”—Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

In the late 1600s, Louis XIV assigns Nicolas de la Reynie to bring order to Paris after the brutal deaths of two magistrates. Reynie, pragmatic and fearless, discovers a network of witches, poisoners, and priests whose reach extends all the way to the king’s court at Versailles. Based on court transcripts and Reynie’s compulsive note-taking, Holly Tucker’s engrossing true-crime narrative makes the characters breathe on the page as she follows the police chief into the dark labyrinths of crime-ridden Paris, the halls of royal palaces, secret courtrooms, and torture chambers.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • April 2018
  • ISBN 978-0-393-35543-7
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 336 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverCity of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris


Endorsements & Reviews

City of Light, City of Poison is not only a serious, meticulously researched work of nonfiction, it is an irresistible story. Full of danger, mystery, and excitement, it will keep you up well into the night, marveling at this forgotten world of dark intrigue.” — Candice Millard, author of Hero of the Empire

“Tucker tells the story as if it were a classic whodunit, bringing alive an extremely complicated and baffling series of events.” — Thad Cahart, Newsday

City of Light, City of Poison [is] a cop drama of sorts, intermingled with a historian’s tenacious pursuit of the evidence.… Tucker’s way with a lavish description will have you planning your all-star adaptation of the book.… Fascinating.” — Sharon Wheeler, Times Higher Education

“Tucker is a deft scene-setter, and there is an enjoyable whiff of The Untouchables about her evocation of the Parisian underworld, Louis XIV’s decision to clamp down on it, and the entry of her hero, La Reynie.… [This] is excellent material for a romp, which is precisely what Tucker makes of it.” — Tim Smith-Laing, Sunday Telegraph

“Holly Tucker tells [this] story… with great gusto and with an amazing array of facts. City of Light, City of Poison conjures up 17th century Paris and makes it seem close to the present day.” — Jonah Raskin, New York Journal of Books

“A fierce tale of conspiracy and retribution.… Thanks to Tucker’s sympathetic necromancy and her luscious resurrection of everyday detail, even in gilded palaces the human psyche seems familiarly deceitful and self-justifying.” — Michael Sims, author of The Story of Charlotte’s Web and Arthur and Sherlock

“Tucker walks the tightrope between scholarship and storytelling with practiced bravado. City of Light, City of Poison is as tightly structured as an Agatha Christie mystery.” — Pamela Toler, History in the Margins

“At once bewitching and chilling, the dark story of toxic intrigue, murder, and mayhem in the Sun King’s France reads like the most gripping thriller, thanks to Holly Tucker’s storytelling flair and relentless research.” — Adrienne Mayor, author of The Poison King

City of Light, City of Poison is a fascinating history of how a brilliant policeman brought light and law to Paris.” — Kate Ayers, Book Reporter

“A riveting tale of power, passion, and toxic lovers.… Tucker's account… read[s] like a novel.” — Bookwitty

Also by Holly Tucker All

  1. Book CoverBlood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution


All Subjects