THE EAGLE AND THE VIPER by Loren D. Estleman

From the publisher:

Part high-octane suspense, part dire warning, The Eagle and the Viper frommultiple-winning novelist Loren D. Estleman reveals how close our world came―at the dawn of a promising new century―to total war.

It’s a time of improvised explosive devices, terrorist training camps, international assassins, and war on civilians. It’s Christmas Eve, 1800.

This much is history: On Christmas Eve, 1800, an “infernal machine” exploded in one of the busiest streets in Paris, France, destroying buildings and killing innocent civilians. It wasn’t the first attempt on the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the newly minted Republic of France.

This much is exclusive to our story: Upon the failure of the Christmas Eve plot, the conspiracy takes a new and more diabolical turn.

Posterity knows what became of Napoleon: He led France into a series of military adventures that ended in his defeat, followed by decades of peace. But this future hung on a precarious thread. One man can make history; another can change it.


An extremely well researched book based on a little-known event in the life of Napoleon Bonaparte. The man had recently been elected as First Consul of France during the latter period of the revolution. The threat of the guillotine was still prevalent in a country that was engrossed in attempting to wipe out all traces of royalty without any clear idea of what form of government should eventually prevail. What was termed an “infernal machine,” a huge explosion, was set off on one of the busiest streets in Paris. It was exploded on Christmas Eve 1800 and construed to be an attempt to assassinate Napoleon.     

Estleman describes the France of the moment, a virtual police state with the head Policeman able to assume complete power over the nation indicating that he does so in his role dictated by The First Consul for the good of the country.  The author also postulates a professional assassin termed “The Viper” and hired by members of the government to kill Napoleon.  The Viper’s movements to infiltrate the country and complete his mission to kill The First Consul are outlined in the novel.  There was no indication of such an individual actually existing at that time, but the author presents a very readable novel detailing seizure of power and blame accruing to many places with blame on the assassination attempt.  A forward does indicate that Estleman might be using his book as a vehicle to alert people to the damage that could be done if the truth is hidden and falsehoods take its place.  The act is character assassination and certainly might be a weapon used in changing the image of person or persons that are deemed to be hindering the paths of others from their goals.

4/2021 Paul Lane

THE EAGLE AND THE VIPER by Loren D. Estleman. Thomas & Mercer (March 1, 2021). ISBN: 978-1542023863. 336 pages.

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