Title – The Collector of Dying Breaths
Author – M J Rose
Story Summary –
In modern day, Paris, France, Jac L’Etoile, heiress to a perfume empire is mourning the loss of her brother. With his loss she finds herself alone in the world. In her pain she immerses herself in her work and comes upon a sixteenth century perfumer for Catherine de Medici who searched for the secrets to immortality.
Rene’ le Florentin is a monk, wanted for murder, who becomes perfumer to the very queen of France. Along the way he searches for the secrets that his teacher sought before him.
“..It is with irony now, forty years later, to think that if I had not been called a murderer on the most frightening night of my life, there might not be any perfume in Paris today. And that scent – to which I gave my all and which gave me all the power and riches I could have hoped for – is at the heart of why now it is I who call myself a murderer…”
Rene’s quest, is to collect the dying last breaths of people and then to somehow place them inside another so that the dying may somehow live again. In this way, they will be immortal.
Jac has her own secret. An ability she has had since she was a child. An ability to re-live the past lives that have gone before her. To be one with those she believes she was re-incarnated from. Believing that somehow Rene’s dying breathes may hold the key to her own gifts, Jac begins to research Rene’s discoveries and with the help of financial backers, begins to recreate the formula Rene had kept hidden all this time.
But the backers behind Jac are not who they seem and soon she finds herself in greater peril. But is it the human threat or the true secret of the dying breaths that Jac should fear the most.
The is an excellent novel by M J Rose. Meticulously researched and with the attention to detail that is a standard in all her novels. The back and forth narrative between Jac and Rene is also intriguing as it intersects two separate tales with the main theme. Occasionally in Rose’s novels the details have a tendency to bog down the story but that is not the case with the Collector of Dying Breaths as the novel moves along at a strong clip.
Rene and his rise to prominence is told with drama and tension as he battles his way out of a murder charge to freedom from a monastery to the very courts of France. Where he becomes a confidant and powerful ally of the queen Catherine de Medici. A position that at one moment brings him much acclaimed and joy and in the next, the greatest tragedy of his life.
Jac, driven by her loss, struggles to understand he mystery of the dying breaths with the hope that they might bring. In her case, the journey is one of self discovery, fraught with danger and pain.
A very well written and enjoyable novel.