Dr. Guillotine

Herbert Lom, Author
Herbert Lom, Author Trafalgar Square Publishing $24.95 (182p) ISBN 978-1-85619-111-1
Reviewed on: 05/31/1993
Release date: 06/01/1993
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This first novel is more of a comedy than an attempt at serious historical fiction. Set in France during the Reign of Terror, the book begins with the proposition that the world is a ``loony bin with undercurrents of occasional sanity.'' The author illustrates this theme with the figure of Dr. Guillotin, a humanist whose attempts to find a painless method of execution provide the Revolutionaries with a means of killing their opponents en masse. Guillotin develops relationships with two other historic characters, Jean Paul Marat, leader of the Revolution, and Charlotte Corday, Marat's assassin and the object of Marat's as well as Guillotin's desire. Describing the events leading to Marat's death, Lom, an actor best known for his portrayal of Chief Inspector Dreyfuss in the Pink Panther films, includes imaginary scenes with other major figures. Marie Antoinette, for example, says, ``My sense of humor will be the death of me.'' This light, animated touch distracts the reader from Lom's frequent failings as a novelist, his cliches and his poor pacing. Although it lacks dramatic focus, the story engages the reader with a sequence of wryly amusing episodes. (Apr.)
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