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Dying by the sword

Sarah D’Almeida

314 pages
Berkley Publishing Group - 2008 - États-Unis
Policier - Roman

Intérêt: **

 

 

 

Ce cinquième volume de la série A musketeers mystery - après Death of a musketeer, The musketeer’s seamstress, The musketeer’s apprentice et A death in Gascony, commence par l’arrestation pour meurtre de Mousqueton, le valet de Porthos. Le garçon a été retrouvé inconscient auprès du cadavre de l’armurier du mousquetaire et est considéré comme l’assassin. Les quatre mousquetaires se mobilisent aussitôt pour élucider le mystère afin d’innocenter le malheureux.

Comme dans les romans précédents, chacun procède à sa façon. Porthos effectue un examen minutieux des lieux du drame, Aramis se renseigne à la cour, etc… Comme à chaque fois, l’enquête se trouve mêlée à des complots réels ou imaginaires touchant au roi, à la reine et à Richelieu.

Le principal problème de la série est d’ailleurs celui-là: Sarah D’Almeida se répète beaucoup. Les intrigues, les comportements des personnages se ressemblent d’un volume à l’autre. Et au sein d’un même livre, les répétitions abondent: on ne saurait dire combien de fois elle répète dans ce volume – comme dans les précédents – que Porthos a du mal à s’exprimer mais qu’il a sa propre forme d’intelligence.

Un élément différencie un peu toutefois Dying by the sword de ses prédécesseurs: le fait que l’auteur se «rapproche» un peu plus du roman de Dumas, en jouant avec des thèmes ou des scènes des Trois mousquetaires. Cela donne une très belle scène: la première rencontre entre Athos et la duchesse de Chevreuse, alors maîtresse d’Aramis et future mère du vicomte de Bragelonne (voir extrait ci-dessous). Et une très étonnante réécriture de la nuit d’amour entre Milady et d’Artagnan.

Contrairement à ce qui se passe chez Dumas, d’Artagnan ne s’introduit pas par tromperie dans le lit de Milady. C’est au contraire celle-ci qui le séduit et le drogue. Sarah D’Almeida s’en explique dans une ahurissante note de bas de page: selon elle, il est totalement invraisemblable qu’un jeune homme aussi romantique que d’Artagnan ait pu être infidèle à Constance! D’où cette démarche consistant à «corriger» Les trois mousquetaires.

Comme les précédents, le livre est d’une lecture agréable. Mais la série court un risque sérieux de s’enfoncer dans les redites.

L'auteur a par ailleurs écrit une histoire de vampires tournant autour des mousquetaires, Sword and blood.


Extrait du chapitre “When Athos Is Inspected; The Lady Is The Tiger; And Porthos Disappears”

Athos smiled back, one of his practiced smiles that meant very little. "I would prefer not to give my family name. In the musketeers I am called Athos."

"Athos!" Her (the duchess de Chevreuse) hands met, in an almost clap at her chest. "You are a friend of a very great friend of mine, then.

"Aramis, madam, if that is whom you mean."

"Aramis, exactly." She smiled at him, almost mockingly. "While I completely understand, monsieur, the need to go into hiding and wear an assumed name - in fact I'm sure if I were a man, I’d have killed a great many men in duels – I cannot understand why both of you must choose such strange names. And there is a third to your group of odd names, isn't there?"

"That would be my friend Porthos, madam."

"Oh, yes, the big one that everyone says is seeing a foreign princess. He always scares me a little. Too much man there, if you know what I mean."

Athos had not the slightest idea what she meant, and, as in all such situations, contented himself with bowing deeply.

She giggled as if he'd performed a particularly clever trick. "Please, Come in, Monsieur le Comte," she said.

Athos thought that lately everyone seemed obsessed with his dignity, but he went in, all the same, and bowed again to the bewitching duchess who, while watching him as if he had been a particularly luscious pastry, said, "You may close the door."

Full of misgiving, considering all he had heard about the duchess and her approach to men, Athos closed the door, and turned around, trying to keep his face utterly impassive. "Madam, in the last two days, your name has been mentioned to me a great deal, in a variety of circumstances, some of which must give rise to the liveliest concern, insofar as-"

"Turn around," the duchess said.

"I beg your pardon?"

"Turn around," the duchess said, and twirled her pink and white fingers in a motion, as though indicating in which way he could best please her.

Athos, never before having been ordered to twirl, except by his dancing master in the now very distant past, turned around slowly, hands at his waist. "What I mean, your grace," he said, "is that-"

"Do you ride, milord?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"Do you ride?" she asked. "Horses."

"I know how to ride, if that's what you're asking, but I’ve found a horse is not much use to me in Paris, and a lot of extra expense to stable, so I only borrow a horse when I need to, and I only do that on service to the King or for emergencies."

"Do you dance, then?"

This was getting somewhat past the point of ridiculousness.

"Not for many years now, your grace."

"So, there is no accounting for it."

"Madam?"

"Your shape. The way your legs are so well-muscled and your back ... You must know it's very unusual in a man of your age, for I'd wager despite very few grey hairs that you will not see thirty again."

"I don't-"

"No, of course not. No use at all giving me details, though I daresay I could find them, you know? It is not hard, when you are well·formed and female, to ask whatever questions cross one's mind. People will tell you the strangest and most absurdly intimate things, all in the absolute conviction that you have not a brain in your head. Why is that?"

Athos was starting to wonder if perhaps he were drunk – if the monumental drinking spree of the night before could have clouded his mind to the point where he couldn't make sense of a simple conversation.

"Why is what?" he asked. "I don't have the pleasure of understanding you."

"No, I quite see you don't. Sorry to disturb you."


 

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