An existential detective story by one of France's most popular modern writers, set in a mid-nineteenth century mountain village, available in English for the first time “The book started off entirely by chance, without even a character. The character was the Tree, the Beech, and the starting point—that was the discovery of a crime: a dead body turns up in the branches of this tree. There was the Tree; there was the victim; an inanimate thing, a corpse. Well, the corpse requires a murderer, that's clear, and the murder requires investigation. What I wrote was a novel about the investigator. That’s what I wanted to write, but it had to start with a tree that had nothing to do with the story at all.” Such was Jean Giono’s account of how A King Alone came to be. The title alludes to Pascal’s saying “A king without distraction is a man full of wretchedness,” and the book is set in a remote Alpine village in the mid-nineteenth century. At its center is the enigmatic officer Langlois. In deepest winter, the inhabitants of a remote Alpine village mysteriously begin to disappear. Langlois comes from afar to protect the village and investigate the crime. Giono’s novel about a tiny community at the dangerous edge of things and a man of law who is ever more a man alone could be described as a metaphysical Western. It unfolds with the uncanny inevitability and disturbing intensity of a dream.