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From the opening pages of his new novel, Miller (Oxygen, 2002; One Morning Like a Bird, 2008) virtually steeps you in the filth, fashion, and fecundity of late-eighteenth-century France. In 1785, as prerevolutionary Paris teeters on the brink of a political and cultural cataclysm, Jean-Baptiste Baratte, a young engineer fresh from the provinces, is assigned the dubious task of exhuming the pestilential Les Innocents cemetery. Situated in the heart of one of the city's poorest quarters, the ancient burial ground is literally bursting at the seams, spewing poisonous vapors and noxious odors, not to mention decomposing body parts, into the surrounding neighborhood. He approaches his task with the scientific zeal characteristic of Enlightenment-era intellectuals, but both his grisly mission and his philosophical musings about the nature of man and his own position in unfolding history foreshadow the violent social upheaval to come. Atmospheric to the point that Paris has never looked, sounded, or smelled as gritty or as gory.--Flanagan, Margaret Copyright 2010 Booklist