A delicious account of a murder most gallic—think CSI Paris meets Georges Simenon—whose lurid combination of sex, brutality, forensics, and hypnotism riveted first a nation and then the world.
Little Demon in the City of Light is the thrilling—and so wonderfully French—story of a gruesome 1889 murder of a lascivious court official at the hands of a ruthless con man and his pliant mistress and the international manhunt, sensational trial, and an inquiry into the limits of hypnotic power that ensued.
In France at the end of the nineteenth century a great debate raged over the question of whether someone could be hypnotically compelled to commit a crime in violation of his or her moral convictions. When Toussaint-Augustin Gouffé entered 3, rue Tronson du Coudray, he expected nothing but a delightful assignation with the comely young Gabrielle Bompard. Instead, he was murdered—hanged!—by her and her companion Michel Eyraud. The body was then stuffed in a trunk and dumped on a riverbank near Lyon.
As the inquiry into the guilt or innocence of the woman the French tabloids dubbed the “Little Demon” escalated, the most respected minds in France debated whether Gabrielle Bompard was the pawn of her mesmerizing lover or simply a coldly calculating murderess. And, at the burning center of it all: Could hypnosis force people to commit crimes against their will?
- The chapters are short and it is very easy to read
I think this may fit in the vein of narrative nonfiction/cross over appeal for mystery fiction readers
- French history
The court system (sounds like a lot), court case, all the players, and more
- Seeing the almost actual words of a lot of the people who were apart of this case (because the sources the author found)
- Despite all things I thought about in The Thoughts section this was not a heavy book
Even as I write this review I feel like I do not have a lot to say about it really. Did this book leave a impression on me is a question on my mind.
The Thoughts I Had
- I thought about sexism because It’s present in this book
- mental illness, trauma, racism
- the way that some women benefit intentionally or unintentionally from perception of them because of their gender and race. This whole thought brought to mind Hannah Mary Tabbs which is the book that planted this seed in my head.
There was not a heavy conversation on any of these topics so do not take my thoughts as sign this was a heavy book.
Overall, I did enjoy this book and am thankful I finished it after more than a year of reading it. (I take forever to finish nonfiction)
(synopsis and cover image is from goodreads)