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Little Demon in the City of Light

A True Story of Murder and Mesmerism in Belle Epoque Paris

Steven Levingston

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Doubleday Books
25 February 2014
Biography; True crime; European history; History: specific events & topics; Hypnosis
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 Gouffe 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 mesmerising lover or simply a coldly calculating murderess. And, at the burning centre of it all: Could hypnosis force people to commit crimes against their will?
By:   Steven Levingston
Imprint:   Doubleday Books
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 242mm,  Width: 162mm,  Spine: 34mm
Weight:   644g
ISBN:   9780385536035
ISBN 10:   0385536038
Pages:   333
Publication Date:   25 February 2014
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

A veteran international journalist who has worked in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Paris, along with assignments in New York, Chicago, and Washington, STEVEN LEVINGSTON is the nonfiction book editor of The Washington Post. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with his wife and two children.

Reviews for Little Demon in the City of Light: A True Story of Murder and Mesmerism in Belle Epoque Paris

Advanced praise for Little Demon in the City of Light This is an amazing tale of sex and hypnosis and murder in Paris, and it's all true. Levingston has produced both a 'mesmerizing' crime story and also a fascinating look at science and society in the late 19th century. --Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute and author of biographies of Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs Vividly conjuring a sweeping cast of characters who reflect the lusty excess and dark anxieties of the times, Little Demon in the City of Light paints a lavish portrait of Belle epoque Paris while unfurling one of the most compelling murder trials in the city's history. With penetrating insight and radiant style, Steven Levingston has crafted a mesmerizing true story. --Karen Abbott, author of Sin in the Second City and American Rose Like The Devil in the White City, this Little Demon in the City of Light tracks murder and sexual crime in the days of silk top hats and horse-drawn carriages. The reader will enter Paris, witness a grisly crime, then follow a trans-Atlantic escape and the relentless pursuit by the authorities. The tale plays out not as a whodunit, but rather as a will-she-get-away-it and... should she? In effect, the beautiful young Parisienne didn't plead insanity but rather hypnotism. Was she a calculating predator? Or was she herself a victim, mesmerized by her Svengali-like lover to commit crimes? You decide whether the lawyers, doctors and judges of 19th century Paris got the verdict right. --Richard Zacks, author of Island of Vice and The Pirate Hunter Steven Levingston has given us a deeply-researched and engagingly-told story of murder and science in turn-of-the-century Paris. We think of the Belle epoque as all light and gaiety, but the era had a macabre side as well, which Levingston vividly brings to life. --Douglas Starr, author of The Killer of Little Shepherds and Blood


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