Posted:  June 3, 2014

Little Demon in the City of Light: A True Story of Murder and Mesmerism in Belle Epoque ParisA delicious account of a murder most gallic—think CSI Parismeets Georges Simenon—whose lurid comibation 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 GouffĂ© 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?

This is a true story of murder that happened in 1889, in Paris France. This book goes into a lot of detail as far as the back ground of all of the main people involved. Also talks about how at that time the police force actually was using the most up to date methods along with Scotland Yard, as far as photo book and names of known criminals and when they had been released and to what province. I thought that to be very interesting. You get a back ground of how things were in parts of France at that time and how because of the way they deposed of the body made it harder for the lead investigator to know when the crime occurred and where. When they do find everything and start putting names together, they find out that they fled to San Francisco. When brought to France to stand trail the female a young Gabrielle Bompard, her defense is that she was hypnotized into doing the killing. This brought a whole new thought into court and into the way the public looked at hypnotized. Up to this point it was thought of as a carnival show or trick no one had used it or thought of using it as a defense for a crime and a crime of murder at that. There is a lot information about the science and other the main doctors at the time thought it could be done to carry out a crime. There is also the political fallout of the trail since the man murdered was a court official. There is a lot going on with this story but it is all true that is what is scary. A well written book and done in a way that you get all of the information. A very good book. I got this book from net galley.

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