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The Fig Eater

JODY SHIELDS

2,318 ratings by GoodReads
ISBN 10: 0316785644 / ISBN 13: 9780316785648
Published by Little Brown and Company March 2000, 2000
Used Condition: Fine (F) Hardcover
From Don Quixote Book Sellers (Sparta, NJ, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Very collectable condition. Appears unread, crisp, clean, bright and tight. Near fine book/Near Fine Dust Jacket. BEAUTIFUL copy. Author first novel.:suspenseful, and highly intelligent. Bookseller Inventory # 20080829102660

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Fig Eater

Publisher: Little Brown and Company March 2000

Publication Date: 2000

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine (F)

Dust Jacket Condition: As New

Edition: First Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

Vienna, 1910. A hot August night. An eighteen-year-old girl named Dora (loosely inspired by Freuds famous patient) is found brutally murdered in the Volksgarten park. The crime is being investigated by the Inspector, newly schooled in rationalist criminology. Meanwhile, his Hungarian wife, Erszbet, driven by Gypsy superstition, and a teenage English governess become obsessed with the murder. They are certain the figs found in Doras stomach during the autopsy are the clue to the identity of the murdererfor there are no fresh figs in Vienna at this time of year. The book is rich with detail about Vienna and Gypsy folklore and filled with descriptions of food, photography, botany, perverse medical practices, and sexual secrets. The detective work is based on an actual turn-of-the-century manual of criminology. Jody Shields is the former design editor of The New York Times Magazine and a former editor at Vogue, House and Garden, and Details. She is the author of two nonfiction fashion books: All That Glitters and A Stylish History.

Review:

Penzler Pick, May 2000: It is 1910 Vienna, and a woman's body has been found in the Volksgarten. She is Dora--Freud's famous patient. The Inspector (whose name we never learn) is painstakingly trying to put together the circumstances of her death with the help of the principles outlined in the 1901 book System der Kriminalistik, the first tome to attempt a psychological approach to understanding crime. The Inspector's wife, Erszébet, meanwhile, is drawn to this murder for reasons she doesn't understand and decides to investigate using her own methodology, derived from the Gypsy folklore she grew up with in Hungary.

What separates The Fig Eater from ordinary mystery fiction is the look it offers at detective work in the early 20th century, as the methods used moved from folklore and ignorance to the scientific. Photography of the era often resulted in the loss of fingers. Forensic methods so familiar to us now were unheard of, and the use of psychological profiling to capture killers was a young science unknown by most of the general populace.

Shields introduces the reader to Dora's family and acquaintances, giving depth to the characters only briefly discussed in Freud's case study of Dora. She takes liberties with the historical record (this is, after all, a novel) but creates a plausible scenario of what might have happened while depicting a brooding turn-of-the-century Vienna replete with gorgeous details of food, fashion, botany, and manners. The film rights have been optioned by Miramax, and if the author had her way, she says, it would star Liam Neeson and Judi Dench. --Otto Penzler

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