Religion, money, and sex are the general subjects of these three arresting (previously untranslated) short stories by the French master of documentary realism and bloodcurdling melodrama. The brief “Fasting” (1870) offers sardonic views of a gluttonous curate and the suggestible “little baroness” titillated and aroused by his thunderous homilies. “Nantas” (1878) chronicles the self-delusion and the awakening of a young man on the make in 1870s Paris. And the mordant title story, clearly akin to Zola’s early potboiler Thérèse Raquin, crisply portrays a murderous hoyden who casually rids herself of two adoring, emptyheaded lovers. For those who find Zola insufferably turgid, this racy little volume is the perfect antidote.