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Leopold’s Assassin

Author(s): J R Rogers

Location(s): Brussels, Dinard, Guyana, Lima, Paris, Recife, St Malo

Genre(s): Historical, Fiction, Suspense

Era(s): 1902

1902 – It is a cold and rainy Saturday morning the 15th of November in Brussels, Belgium. Gennaro Cataldo, an Italian anarchist, has traveled incognito to Brussels from London and Paris. In the Belgian capital he plans to assassinate Leopold II, King of the Belgians. Positioning himself on a roof Rubino fires repeatedly at King Leopold’s carriage as the cortege, returning from a memorial service for the King’s deceased wife, passes below. Unable to determine whether he succeeded, Rubino escapes to France.

We find Cataldo hiding in Brittany, living with his sister in wooded Saint-Enogat, a hamlet adjoining Dinard, France, a then fashionable seaside resort of stunning cliff top villas, a fabulous casino and a burgeoning art colony favored by American and British aristocrats and European royalty. Descending on Dinard every summer, they occupy the only first class hotel in town rather than rent villas, give lavish parties for one another and, in the evenings, book every restaurant in town.
When Cataldo learns that Leopold II, accompanied by his 19-year old mistress, will be arriving in Dinard aboard his yacht to gamble at the casino he jumps at the chance. He aims to finish what he failed to accomplish that day in Brussels.

The murderer flees first to Peru aboard The City of Bruges a transatlantic steamer sailing from the walled city of Saint Malo across the bay. Once aboard he listens and learns to a hoard of thieves, crooks and con men who, like him, are escaping to South America.

But close behind comes George Remi, a well-funded and determined Belgian Secret Service detective who has set off from Brussels to bring Rubino to justice.

Unprepared for a life on the run Cataldo treks across Latin America in search of a refuge but in the end makes the mistake of his life by deciding to settle in Kourou, French Guiana, the overseas capital of the French colonial penal system and infamous Devil’s Island.

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Enter the 2021TripFiction 'Sense of Place' Creative Writing Competition!

A story in which the location plays as important a role as the rest of your words.

2,500 word maximum, 750 word minimum

Judges include Victoria Hislop and Rosanna Ley

First Prize of £1,000 / US$1,350

Prizes total £1,750 / US$2,362 

Winning entry published on TripFiction site and publicised on Social Media

Entries close 6th November 2021