This is a short review of what is a short, terrible and nasty book. Nasty not because of how it is written but because of the subject matter, a fictionalised version of what is unbelievably a true story.
The events of Eat Him If You Like by Jean Teule take place in France at the height of the Franco-Prussian War. France is not faring well in the conflict, its high summer and the Perigord countryside is suffering from an appalling drought. In the middle of this a young nobleman, Alain de Moneys, sets off for the local fair, one of his last outings before he joins his regiment. By the end of the day this by all accounts pleasant young man will be dead, brutalised, beaten and murdered by his neighbours.
This is a powerful example of how a misheard remark can lead to otherwise ordinary people turning into a bloody-thirsty mob hell-bent on violence. Alain’s death is truly dreadful, but what is just as terrible is how otherwise decent people can do terrible things when they are part of a crowd, and how powerless Alain’s friends are to help him.
Strong stomachs needed for this one.