Friday, January 12, 2007

Cupid's Executioners - Hubert Monteilhet

First published 1967; cover shown is the 1970 Panther Books (UK) paperback edition. Translated from the French by Richard Howard.

Spanish-born French national Purificación has just been informed by her Uncle Pablo that the Navarrese officer who shot dead her father 23 years ago during the Spanish Civil War is in town. Puri knows what she must do: avenge her dead father by killing the hated Captain Juan Villaviciosa.

Using her virgin body as bait, Puri hitches a ride in Juan's green Mercedes. Her plan had been to sit back and wait for a convenient secluded spot in the European countryside, but after falling asleep (and being driven 600 kilometres further than she'd planned) Puri is forced to spend several days with Juan in his Mercedes...

"She realised a little later on that you must kill people before you get to know them - or after you know them too well."

Puri is attracted to her father's killer from the start, and vice versa. The 9mm Mauser with the filed off serial number weighs heavier in her handbag with each mile the Mercedes travels, but the only way Puri can ever let herself think of a future with this man is if she kills him first...

This was a strange but interesting little French novel, with laugh-aloud sentences and situations almost on every page. For some reason this sentence in the first chapter made me laugh longer than is probably considered normal:

"She dined on a chocolate bar and half a sausage which lay on a shelf beside her toothbrush glass, reserved for lean periods at the end of the month."

Hubert Monteilhet (b. 1928) is a French writer, theologian and historian. Reviews of his fiction alternatively label it "immoral" and "superior".

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