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

4.4 out of 5 stars 18 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 (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #574,995 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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Thierry Jonquet is as French as it gets. He combines all manner of over the top sexual lunacy, Michael Crichton style science, and French crime traditions into a heady mix. Needless to say, I don't want to spoil anything.

The thing that Jonquet nails best is the sense of something being unhealthy. You really get the sense that you're involved in something that's not right and it's not just cause of the stuff going on in the book. It's the whole atmosphere and thinking involved with the characters. There's more than a few disturbed characters here to put it lightly and you're placed in their heads for the entirety of the book.

I mean you're quite literally placed too. The author constantly refers to the reader as the character that is being presented in the moment. It plays out as a you did this, then felt this, and then you're doing something else to the person who just did this and then felt this. He never over plays it either by writing the whole novel in this format. The technique is employed just enough that you don't think about it in the moment. It the best kind of trick where you don't notice until it's already happened. It could be down to translation. It feels like I'm reading something written for English and not something hastily translated to make a cash grab. So the translator really nailed it.

I wish more of his work was translated into English. I'm currently working through one of his books in French (The Beauty and The Beast translated) and it's got the same wild sensibility as this one. If you're a person who loves mysteries or thrillers, you'll definitely enjoy this and his other works.
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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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