Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Crime Passionnel


Map: France with Orleans & Paris marked
Map: France with Orleans & Paris marked

The love between Yvonne Rousseau and Pierre Chevallier began as a bodice-ripping romance straight from a dime-store novel.

They met at the hospital where they worked in the lovely old French city of Orleans, in the center of the famed Loire River Valley, the garden region of France that is dotted with 300 majestic chateaux.

Loire Valley chateau
Loire Valley chateau

She was 24, a lithe but timid nurse raised on a farm near Orleans, 75 miles south of Paris. He was 26, a self-assured medical student and scion of an eminent Orleans family.

They found one another in 1937, as Germany was spoiling for a fight with its neighbors. The war would serve as the backdrop for their relationship.

Yvonne moved into Pierres apartment just weeks after they met. With the impending war, civil niceties such as a marriage license and wedding ceremony seemed superfluous.

From the start, the relationship featured an intense physical and emotional cravingan animal passion, as a judge would one day describe it.

Rousseau would never lose her passion for Chevallier, even after they married and she bore him two sons.

Unfortunately for her, over time the passion grew one-sided, and she was destined for a life of tortured jealousythe injured lovers hell, as John Milton put it in Paradise Lost.

Theirs would prove to be a tragic love of operatic proportiona story worthy of Puccini. It would play out in a classic French crime passionnel that gripped Europe half a century ago.

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