The Madonna Of Notre Dame by Alexis Ragougneau ~ A Review and Giveaway

Posted: September 19, 2016 in giveaways, reviews, thriller
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The Madonna Of Notre Dame

by Alexis Ragougneau


Release date: October 11, 2016
at New Vessel Press

ISBN: 978-1-939931-39-3
210 pages

Genre: Thriller


My Review

This is a tangled thriller with a murder not easily solved.

A woman’s body is found in the ambulatory of the chapel, Our Lady Of Seven Sorrows. Seemingly, she’s been there for hours. No one realized she was dead.

Now, it’s a scramble to discover who killed her and what message they were sending by posing her body and leaving it at such a public venue.

I’m not familiar with the working of the Catholic faith so I found it fascinating to read a story that delves into the inner workings. And the translation to English was well done, the story flowed quickly.

This was unfamiliar territory, the church and the foreign setting, and I enjoyed the rich descriptions that helped me to visual and appreciate the beauty of such settings.

The intriguing cast of character’s, including the police and priests, made this a straight through read for me as I unraveled the clues and finally found out who killed the Madonna and why. I was surprised, yet not surprised. Surprised at who did it. Not so much as to why.

I’d recommend this to those who enjoy a tightly written thriller with a good dash of mystery.

4 Stars



Fifty thousand believers and photo-hungry tourists jam into Notre Dame Cathedral on August 15 to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption. The next morning, a stunningly beautiful young woman clothed all in white kneels at prayer in a cathedral side chapel. But when an American tourist accidentally bumps against her, her body collapses. She has been murdered: the autopsy reveals disturbing details. Police investigators and priests search for the killer as they discover other truths about guilt and redemption in this soaring Paris refuge for the lost, the damned, and the saved. The suspect is a disturbed young man obsessed with the Virgin Mary who spends his days hallucinating in front of a Madonna. But someone else knows the true killer of the white-clad daughter of Algerian immigrants. This thrilling novel illuminates shadowy corners of the world’s most famous cathedral, shedding light on good and evil with suspense, compassion and wry humor.



A little farther, he greeted two cleaning women who were

finishing sweeping the north transept, hushed a group of Chinese

tourists whose cackling echoed through the cathedral, which was

otherwise still quiet at that time, then, pushing his cart, set off

along the black and white tiled floor of the ambulatory. That’s

when his colleague, the guard, came to mind. Immediately, he

saw her. Or rather, in the half light, he just made her out.

The bombshell was indeed there, at the very end of the

ambulatory, perfectly still, alone, as though delicately placed on

the bench outside the chapel of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows.

Gérard approached and started emptying the nearest candle

rack. The few candles lit by the first visitors of the day spread

more shadow than light, so that what he was able to distinguish

was a form rather than a body, a profile rather than a face. She

was wearing a short white dress made of such sheer fabric it followed

closely every curve, every bend in her flesh. Her black

hair, shimmering in places, cascaded over her neck and shoulders

like a river of silk. Her hands, joined in prayer like those

of a child, rested on her bare thighs. On her feet, held demurely

together under the bench like those of a schoolgirl, she had a

pair of high-heeled pumps so white and varnished that it was

futile to resist a glance. They underlined her slender ankles and

the contours of her calves.

Gérard lost himself in the contemplation of this stunning

figure, forgetting for a moment his boxes of candles, his cart, his

hassles, and the monotony of his work as sacristan. However, he

was soon interrupted by the crackle of a radio, the one he wore

at his belt, emitting his name.

“Guard to sacristan … Gérard? … Gérard, do you read me?”

“Yes, I can hear you. What do you want?”

“Did you go look?”

“I’m right here.”

“Is she still there?”

“Yes. Good as gold.”


“Definitely explosive … You were right.”

He put back his walkie-talkie with the guard’s laughter still

resounding from it, then, somewhat reluctantly, finished cleaning

out the candle rack. Behind him, a handful of worshippers

were already entering the chancel, where the nine o’clock

Mass was about to begin. He had to get the necessary liturgical

accessories ready. Father Kern was officiating this morning, and

Father Kern did not tolerate delays.

A little later, he again had occasion to go through the ambulatory.

An automatic dispenser of medals stamped with Ave

Maria Gratia Plena had just become jammed and a tourist, a

corpulent American woman, was tormenting the refund button.

In the chancel, the Mass was following its course. Father

Kern was delivering the day’s homily in his metallic, authoritative

voice, plunging the cathedral into a respectful silence. As he

opened the cover of the medal dispenser and the jammed coins

fell one by one as though from a piggy bank, Gérard ventured

a glance at the young woman dressed in white. She was there,

she hadn’t budged, her hands still clasped together on her pale

thighs, her two pumps still united. Outside, the sun was rising

straight up in line with the chapel and, penetrating the stained

glass in the east, was starting to bathe the young woman’s translucent

face in a red and blue halo worthy of a Raphael Madonna.

Motionless on her bench reserved for prayer, protected by a rope

that isolated her from visitors and gave her the appearance of a

holy relic, she stared at the statue of the Virgin of Seven Sorrows

with an oddly vacant expression.

Gérard closed the medal dispenser and took a couple of steps

toward the young woman in white, but the American tourist was

already ahead of him. She took a bill from her handbag and

pushed it through the slit in the stand, then took four candles,

which she lined up on the nearby rack before lighting them one

by one. Their flickering light finally illuminated the girl’s face.

The tourist crossed herself and approached the bench. In a

heavily accented whisper, she asked the young woman in white if

she could sit next to her in order to pray. Still motionless, the girl

did not deign to reply, her eyes as though transfixed by the statue

of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows. After repeating her question

and still not obtaining an answer, the American deposited her

posterior on the bench, the wood groaning slightly beneath her

weight. Then, as if in slow motion, as if in a nightmare from the

dead of night, the white Madonna slowly nodded. Her chin came

down on her chest then, gently, almost gracefully, her whole body

toppled forward before collapsing on the checkered tiles.

That’s when the fat American woman started to scream.


Author Alexis Ragougneau

Alexis Ragougneau
is a playwright and
The Madonna of Notre Dame is his first novel.
He has worked in Notre Dame Cathedral
helping monitor tourist crowds
and knows well its infinite secrets
and the forgotten souls who linger in its darkest corners.

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Buy the book: on Amazon


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  1. It’s never over until the fat lady ‘screams.’ lol
    sherry @ fundinmental

  2. Okay, so I really don’t like the cover of this book, but it sounds pretty good. So it’s going on my wishlist. :)

    The only book I can think of off hand that is set in Paris is book 8 of the Shelby Nichols series and it’s called Devious Minds it’s great but then the whole series is. :)

    • fuonlyknew says:

      Not sure what it is, but the cover catches me. I’ve read many set in Paris and a few were translated to English:)

    • Stormi, I have read several people express their dislike for the picture. All the covers of New Vessel Press have the same type of quirky art, but they are great books

  3. thanks so much for your nice review, so glad you enjoyed it and you discovered something new. Emma at FBT

  4. Anne says:

    I have read the novel, The Paris Architect which was captivating and fascinating.

  5. I love thrillers/mysteries! This sounds like a good one! Thank you

  6. This sounds super interesting. I am adding it to my Goodreads tbr. Thanks for sharing your review. :)