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Mygale (City Lights Noir) Paperback – January 1, 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

" 'Ingenious,' 'elegant,' 'sinister' -- these are also adjectives that approximate, but fall short of, the narrative power of 'Mygale.' -- The Washington Post Book World, January 19, 2003

"...Jonquet's prose is rough hewn, the panache is all in 'Mygale's' bizarre setup, gruesome scenarios and gender bending ending." -- St. Petersberg Times, Jan 12, 2003

Watch your skin crawl with this slim French tickler... -- –East Bay Express, July 30, 2003

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French
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Product Details

  • Series: City Lights Noir
  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: City Lights Publishers (January 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087286409X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872864092
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.3 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #967,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dash Manchette VINE VOICE on January 6, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Near the beginning of MYGALE, we realize that Richard Lafargue, a prominent plastic surgeon, although he treats his woman Eve pleasantly in the presence of others, indeed hates her guts with a searing intensity. As for Eve, although she is locked up at night in her bedroom, we cannot help but wonder why she does not run away or tell someone of her confinement and brutalization when she is around others. After all, it is not like Lafargue is hiding her. He takes her to local parties and such. And, a couple of times a month, he takes her to a Paris apartment where she is used sexually by paying customers, while Lafargue watches with pleasure through a one-way mirror and laughs at Eve's humiliation.

The mystery slowly unfolds in this intriguing tale of revenge. Lafargue has shackled Eve on to him in a rather unique manner. Although the plot device starts to become apparent about halfway through the book, the originality of it nonetheless allows MYGALE to maintain the steam through to the end. Despite her hatred of Lafargue and her humiliation at his hands, Eve cannot go back to the life she once knew.

Along the way we meet Alex, a thug on the run after killing a cop. His story becomes interwoven with that of Eve, Lafargue, and Lafargue's daughter, who is confined to a mental institution. The loose ends come together tightly as we learn the full truth of what has happened.

I picked up MYGALE as it is published by the same noir division of City Lights Books that published a couple of excellent thrillers by Jean-Patrick Manchette. MYGALE lacks the action of Manchette's books and is more subtle and psychological in nature.
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Format: Paperback
Jonquet is a French author of children's books, which I am somewhat familiar with. They are good, enjoyable books. I had never read any of his other works, although I did know he had published some mysteries and essays. This novel is one of those, and it is quite a discovery if you ask me. Jonquet depicts a relationship between a man and a woman that is so strange and twisted as to be called surreal. Are they husband and wife? Father and daughter? Lovers? Associates? Acquaintances? Brother and sister? The answer could be any or every one of those. And who is the wounded man? Where do they come together? This book would be great inspiration for a David Lynch or Stanley Kubrick film. This is a world where the crime is accepted and exalted, by its very victim. The story grips the reader tightly, and doesn't let go until the very end. Good thing this is a short book, because I couldn't stop reading.
I gave it four stars, because I began to glimpse the answer to the mystery about halfway through the book. But the story is fascinating in its weirdness, the characters are twisted but somehow likable enough, and the story presents an idea so bold and original as to be shocking by the time it is revealed. Even if you somehow saw it coming.
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Mygale is the story of an esteemed plastic surgeon, Dr. Richard Lafargue, who tracks down and imprisons the young man (Vincent) who raped his daughter. The hostage does not divulge he and a friend, named Alex, molested the physician's daughter.
Four years later, with Vincent still missing, in a strange twist of fate, Alex robs a bank and kills a police officer. With his face caught on tape, police distribute Alex's picture throughout France. To escape, Alex will require a new identity.
While in hiding, Alex watches a television documentary on plastic surgery, performed by Dr. Lafargue. He decides to stalk the physician.
After gathering information on the doctor's home, clinics, and mental institution that houses his daughter, Alex breaks into the physician's home and kidnaps his female companion, Eve. Alex imprisons Eve in a cellar and threatens her with bodily harm unless Dr. Lafargue performs plastic surgery on him.
Without giving the story away, this is a dreadful tale of the doctor's rage, hatred, and disturbing retribution that ripens into affection for his prisoner.
Thierry Jonquet's story, which is one-hundred and twenty-nine pages, will grip and surprise you. I found the story agonizing, but very well written.
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Likely, you've seen "the Skin I Live In" before checking this out. If you have, I still have to recommend this, even though roughly 90% of the story will be spoiled for you. But then, people read the same book over and over again for a reason.

Is it better than the film? In many ways, yes. I think Pedro Almodovar had the right idea to make his thriller more of a companion than an adaptation, and so you'll encounter few characters who weren't in the film, but they will have (for the most part) completely different pasts and relationships with the other characters.

What I really liked was the portions where the narrative from Eve's perspective. You would think it would spoil some of the story that way, but it shows her progress into stockholm syndrome. The end was somewhat anti-climatic, but also ironic and beautiful.

It's so short though, but you really can't fault it there. It has the ability to never end, so that it was snipped down to less than 200 pages is commendable.
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