Little Demon in the City of Light
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.