The 1903 assassination of King Leopold II of Belgium in Dinard, France by an Italian anarchist and his flight to South America pursued by the Belgian Secret Service. More
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 or not 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.
But when Cataldo learns that Leopold II, accompanied by his nineteen-year old mistress, will be arriving in Dinard aboard his yacht to gamble at the famous 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 attempts to fit in with a hoard of thieves and crooks and con men who, like him, are escaping to South America to find new adventures and to remake their lives.
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 he 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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