Alone in Paris while her husband, Fred, is shooting a film in Provence, Maggy Renard has accepted a job as MC at the Pussycat Club.
At first, the steamy, funky atmosphere amuses her. It is a change from the more dignified world of legitimate theatre to which she is accustomed. Then she finds the mutilated corpse of one of the strippers, and the fun is gone.
From the pompous arrogance of Chief Inspector Charvier to the brutal indifference of Mario, the club's manager, reaction to the ugly crime seems to Maggy so lukewarm as to be utterly inhuman.
Is it because of the victim's profession? Not only the tabloid press but the mainstream news media seem ready, as always, to blame the victim, and as more girls are killed, the public gets ever greedier for their nightly dose of blood.
Maggy and her friend Sheila, a " working girl " in Pigalle, swear to do whatever it takes to bring the killer to justice. But there are hidden monetary and political aspects to the case. And most monstrous of all, in Maggy's eyes; the evil that justifies torture by dehumanizing the victims. " She was only a whore, after all. " Will Maggy's pursuit of the killer put her at risk of departing on a last, fatal journey of her own?
From The Publisher
I love a writer who takes chances. Barbara Sohmers has the courage to plunge into social issues by including in her plot a shocking cultural practice carried on in over forty countries. You can find the practice carried on even in the United States.
Introduce into the plot, girls working in a strip club turning up dead, and you have two very different social situations side by side. Barbara Sohmers has the skill to turn up the heat in a suspenseful mixture of time, place, and characters that place the reader in the situation. Everything about her writing is cinematic. I musn't forget her ability to throw in humor in all this. Don't go to that movie, pick up a copy of The Fox and the Pussycat instead.
From The Author
We are used to hearing the expression "the food chain", referring to the natural hierarchy in which someone, or something, on the bottom, always gets eaten first while who-or whatever is on top gets to feast on its favorite food.
It seems to me that there exists another hierarchy, among humans, in which the strongest, best-looking, most successful and affluent possess privileges and powers far beyond the reach of those below them on the chain.
Take the apex of the pyramid. Rich, healthy, powerful Caucasian males must surely occupy the very top. Who, then, is at the bottom? Don't bother, I've worked it out for you.
The least valued, most exploited, neglected and generally mistreated human creatures in any society are powerless, dark-skinned, female and poor. It might seem a toss-up between the old and very young but, having given it some thought, I must opt for the latter. No one is as totally defenceless in our world as a young black girl.
Why do I tell you this? Only because it has haunted me for some time and because, no matter how important entertainment is to me, it is not the only need from which I write. I want to cry out for compassion and justice; to protest that, although nature seems indifferent to fairness, we must not be; to inject a few drops of human kindness between the hard bones of plot, characters and style.
"Who cares?" Maggy wonders. She does, and so does Fred. And so do I. Perhaps you will too. Read on and find out.
The Fox and The Pussycat
Maggy smelled death as soon as she opened the door. When she was nine years old, a rat had died in the crawlspace under her parent's house in Bordeaux. The stench of its decay had stayed in her nostrils for weeks after her father had removed the corpse. The same sickly-sweet odor enveloped her now like a noxious cloud.
Maggy wanted to run. She imagined herself tearing down the six steep flights to the courtyard, past the Concierge's lodge, into the street. Instead, she pushed the door open and forced herself to step into the room.
It was tiny and dim. The only light filtered in through a grimy dormer window. There had been a pathetic attempt at decor, with travel posters of exotic resorts, mostly white beaches and azure seas, and a few bright throw-rugs on the dirt-colored linoleum. A shiny new console TV looked out of place, incongruous among the thrift shop table and chairs.
A bamboo screen made a pretense of dividing the place into ...
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