Little Demon in the City of Light

Little Demon in the City of Light
Steven Levingston

If the title makes you think of Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City — and how could it not? — then be assured that’s no accident. As with Larson’s book, this is a double-barreled bit of true crime, with the murder of Toussaint-Augustin Gouffé in 1889 running in the foreground, and belle époque Paris as backdrop. Also in play is the minor fad over hypnotism, which ended up playing a prominent part in the trial of the two defendants (prominent, but finally irrelevant, as the jury wasn’t buying any part of it). A good story, but in the end it feels the lack of Larson’s eccentric madman in the starring role. The little demon and her lover were only a pair of dim losers who couldn’t even get away with their crime after making a clean escape half-way around the world.