Read the cast of a hand based on a true story of love and murder in second empire france by G.S.Johnston Online


At dawn on the outskirts of Paris in 1869, Hortense Kinck lies buried alive and surrounded by five of her children. Violently attacked, tormented and trapped, she sifts through the truths and deceits of her marriage to self-made industrialist, Jean Kinck. Why had he lied? France, snug in the prosperity of Napoleon III’s Second Empire, is shocked by the vicious destructionAt dawn on the outskirts of Paris in 1869, Hortense Kinck lies buried alive and surrounded by five of her children. Violently attacked, tormented and trapped, she sifts through the truths and deceits of her marriage to self-made industrialist, Jean Kinck. Why had he lied? France, snug in the prosperity of Napoleon III’s Second Empire, is shocked by the vicious destruction of the bourgeois Kinck family. Under pressure from his superiors, the Chief of Police, Monsieur Claude, must unravel the baffling connections between the family and a mysterious young man, Jean-Baptiste Troppmann, a cold case, a famous palmist and France’s rising tide of dissatisfaction with the Emperor Napoleon III. The Cast of a Hand is an unforgettable love story and a murder mystery based on one of the most shocking crimes of 19th century Paris. GS Johnston’s razor sharp prose interweaves and cross-pollinates the two narratives, both desperately trying to arrive at the truth....

Title : the cast of a hand based on a true story of love and murder in second empire france
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 26310065
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 291 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

the cast of a hand based on a true story of love and murder in second empire france Reviews

  • Elisabeth Storrs
    2019-04-16 13:24

    Macabre, suspenseful and poignant - GS Johnston is expert in drawing the reader into a story that explores both a chilling set of murders as well as the tender devotion of an ill fated mother for her husband and her slain children.Set in the Second Empire of France, the novel is written from two perspectives that are interwoven seamlessly: Hortense, the murdered wife, and Monsieur Claude, the driven Chief Inspector. As Claude hastens to unravel the mystery of whether the enigmatic Jean-Baptiste Troppmann is indeed the architect of the brutal crime, I found myself drawn inexorably to the final moments of Hortense's life as though watching a movie - one hand over my eyes to avoid the sight of inevitable horror yet unable to stop peeking. Johnston is adept at portraying Troppmann as vulnerable, manipulative, cruel and yet ultimately courageous while always keeping the reader's sympathies firmly with Hortense. Rich in history that has clearly been rigorously researched, Johnston brings Paris to life in a time where corruption remained deeply entrenched despite the veneer of newly paved boulevardes and grand buildings.From the electrifying beginning where the dying Hortense lies in her shallow grave, to the grotesque denouement in a Paris jail, A Cast of a Hand grips the reader in a way the ensures tired eyes from reading late into the night and thereafter pondering the melancholic intricacies of murder, justice and a woman's love.

    2019-04-12 15:41

    We live in a world where the media reporting of the college shootings, serial killers and crimes of passion often grasp at our attention for their online headlines. But how better to set the horror of such dramatic acts into context, than to explore the archetypal nature of such crimes and their perpetrators. In G. S. Johnston’s historical recreation of the murder of Hortense Knick and her children on the outskirts of Paris in the 1860’s, the author offers us a complex and insightful ‘blick’ into the interweaving of the social, medial, legal and political machinations that follow the gruesome discovery and the pursuit of the suspected murderer. But all is not as it may first seem, as the complacent husband, the mercenary suspect, the forensically minded investigator and the self-affirming palmist become hurtled down a labyrinth of questions about whether we are forced to, or born to kill. A historical view on the ‘nature or nurture’ question of murder, that is a relevant today as it was during the trial at the turn of the 19th century. Riveting reading.

  • Caraline
    2019-04-11 14:32

    It is no secret that I absolutely loved The Skin of Water, the author's previous novel. So this book had a big hill to climb. I am pleased to say it did not disappoint me.The split narration really suits reading in good chunks, so set some time aside and step back in time to 19th century France. Join Antoine Claude as he pieces together the mystery behind the bodies the field. Walk with Hortense Kinck on her inexorable journey. The puzzle draws you in, and the finale is so well written, it is impossible to guess how things will end. Despite the fact the opening chapter tells us Hortense died, it is a testament to the author's brilliance just how invested I became in her story, whilst knowing her ultimate fate.The male 'hero' is the Paris Chief of Police, and whilst he is not as alluring as The Skin of Water's Zeno, his good moral character and devotion to his wife, his job and this case make him almost as attractive. (Almost.)This novel is so much more than a historical whodunnit or a period romance. The evocative writing transports, but it also informs and embroils the reader, which makes it such an enjoyable book.Like The Skin of Water, The Cast of a Hand stays with you, haunting in a different way, but still leaving us hoping the author doesn't keep us waiting too long for his next novel.

  • LiteraryChanteuse
    2019-03-31 11:27

    I am always moved by a true story and this one held my attention from the beginning to the very end. There is a keen-sighted look at the events that are well thought out in two simultaneous stories that go from scene to scene with transparent ease. Jean, Hortense and Jean-Baptiste's personalities really develop over the course of the book and I found I particularly liked Claude who seem to add an interesting dynamic. Overall it is interesting, eerie, touching and worth the time to read!

  • Vanessa Di Stefano
    2019-04-12 16:35

    I actually really enjoyed this book, found it hard to put down. I liked the way the journey through the investigation was interspersed with the development of events in Hortense's life, with the latter slowly catching up to the criminal investigation into her death. It was very well done, and kept me guessing until the end. Even when it became clear what had happened, there was still enough tension in the story to keep me interested. Only one of the very last scenes jarred a little, the reaction of one of the protagonists to a pivotal event, but, maybe under the circumstances, such a reaction is possible. Sorry to be vague, but I do not want to write any spoilers!

  • Tena
    2019-04-12 17:14

    I won a kindle version #GoodreadsGiveaway

  • Estella
    2019-03-21 12:25

    I won this book through goodreads. I love historical mysteries and this is a good one. Based on a true story. It kept my attention from beginning to end.

  • Bettye McKee
    2019-03-24 14:29

    A most unusual story set in Napoleon III's French EmpireBased on a true story (using real names), this intriguing mystery follows a twisting trail. It takes several chapters for the story to start making sense. But just when you think you are beginning to understand where the story is leading, the facts change. Don't blame the author who is only writing down the story.If you research a bit on the internet, you can find photos of the victims and more information about Troppmann. M. Claude, who investigated the murders, became obsessed with learning the truth.Highly recommended, especially for fans of historical crimes. If I had proofread this book, I would have corrected 24 errors.

  • Elspeth G. Perkin
    2019-04-15 10:26

    Slight tweaks and spins of historic fact are expected in any historical fiction novel and there is no doubt The Cast of a Hand: Based on a True Story of Love and Murder in Second Empire France is an ambitious and bold work but I can’t honestly say I found this book worth this reader’s effort to finish. I feel terrible to go against so many glowing and enthusiastic reviews but I finished this book irked, confused and just plain disappointed. The story started out strong and the course of events flowed straight with buildups of desired mystery but once the novel moved into seriously spinning with history, adding flourishes of sadly predictable conspiracy elements and concluding with a possible hidden agenda message- that is when this book completely lost me. There were also specific details and evidence shared in the beginning of the novel that were a part of this true-life horrendous tragedy that I was interested to see later in the story with creative (but well-researched and plausible) explanations but these were frustratingly discarded (and it seems the reader is just supposed to forget those specifics and other real and imagined details) and in place more sympathetic passages aimed at the accused were found.I will say that although not all the characters were vividly drawn, Hortense’s personality came shining through as I read and I appreciated the author not falling into that modern expectation that all female characters need to defy their settings and need to be painted with current sensibilities and thoughts. Unfortunately the other characters were pale in comparison and the 19th-century France atmosphere seemed oddly off or just didn’t stand out for this reader but I think the slightly modern sounding dialogue and surprising non-national “-isms” may have had a lot to do with that sadly. Finally I just couldn’t stop shaking my head at the anachronistic detective and forensic details and topics that kept breaking through but all negatives I may have found may be not so noticeable by other eager readers. I won’t say The Cast of a Hand: Based on a True Story of Love and Murder in Second Empire France should be avoided, on the contrary it really isn’t a bad book (it really has an absolutely gripping plot and served as a decent winter’s day read) and it may be well worth someone's time. So give it a spin if you’re interested, you just may love it like so many others.~*~For more reviews see

  • John
    2019-04-13 15:35

    I tend to read a variety of books but I particularly like crime thrillers. I have just finished The Girl on the Train and enjoyed it a lot. I’m glad my follow-up book was The Cast of a Hand because it just was suspenseful and enjoyable. Like trying to put the pieces together in a jigsaw puzzle, the author of The Cast of a Hand skilfully guided and teased me through a cat and mouse game of hopeful leads and dead ends in the quest for the truth behind the grisly murder of the Kinck family. You experience the main characters’ emotions – the victim’s confusion and betrayal and the police chief’s exasperation as their lives spiral around the identity of the killer and his twisted motivations. If you enjoyed The Shadow of the Wind, this book has the same atmospheric, nourish mystery quality. I highly recommend The Cast of a Hand to mystery and suspense readers.

  • Traci Browne
    2019-04-19 14:20

    This story is told in two narratives, an approach that most writers do not do very well. Johnston, however, weaves the two together so well you hardly even notice you are bouncing between them. It's a flow that is not only natural, but amazingly right for this story. I always love how he writes his characters in his books. He gives you just enough description to paint your own picture, not force the author's image on you. That said, somehow he manages to make every character so rich and vibrant. You'll swear he described them in detail because you see them in your mind as if they were right in front of you. You understand them. You pity them, you love them, and at times you hate them.Settle in if you open this book're not going to want to put it down.

  • Jackie Leitson
    2019-04-01 15:26

    4.25 starsI'm not really a fan of the history/mystery genre but since it was written by G.S.Johnston and I loved his book The Skin of Water ANDHe sent me a free copy; I thought I would give it a try. I'm not big on writing long reviews but I will say this; the author clearly did quite a bit of research and wrote these characters with defined and interesting personality. All along I felt I was there, transported to this time in history. As I conveyed to the author, truth really is stranger than fiction!!

  • Lisa
    2019-04-18 16:25

    An interesting look into life and investigation during the Second Empire, dealing with palm reading and other physical attributes as an indicator or future criminal behavior. Who is sabotaging the investigation? What really happened? How did a woman and all of her children (including one still in the womb) end up in a shallow grave in a field?What makes it more intriguing is that this murder really happened, and the suspect is real.

  • Lisa
    2019-04-04 16:35

    Very enjoyable fictional account of a real case. The period is well transmitted, along with the frustrations of the protagonist, a police detective trying to solve the murder of a woman and her several children. Just when the detective thinks he has it figured out, his main suspects turn up dead -in unexpected ways. Political machinations do nothing to assist our protagonist who must satisfy his superiors (all the way up to the Emperor) while struggling to do justice for the victims.

  • Gloria
    2019-04-16 12:36

    Mystery of a brutal, vicious murder.Liked this book because it was based on a real mystery in 19th Century France. The author really gets into the character and minds of all the victims.i could not put the book down as the story flowed with detail. The characters came alive.

  • sharon murray
    2019-04-01 14:27

    This was a book that intrigued me and at many times frustrated me also. But what a fanastic book! You should buy it!!

  • KarnagesMistress
    2019-04-14 13:29

    I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. It is a Kindle book.