f Arsène Lupin, Gentleman Burglar, by Maurice Leblanc. Unabridged audio.
As Sherlock Holmes’ popularity
grew into the early 20th century, French novelist Maurice Leblance
wrote stories featuring a protagonist equal to Holmes in every detail, except
for the side of the law he operated on. The gentleman burglar and man of a
thousand disguises was nearly as successful as the great detective, appearing
in more than a dozen novels and almost 40 short stories.
This 1907 publication is the
first collection of stories to see print, consisting of nine stories that saw
print in periodicals in the few years preceding. The collection opens with two
very storng stories, “The Arrest” and “In Prison,” showing how being in
captivity merely gives the great thief the best alibi possible. It does not
keep him from masterminding criminal acts.
Similar to Holmes, Lupin shows
extraordinary skills in disguise, dressing up both himself and others when
needed. His attention to detail and fast-moving mind help him commit crimes,
and when his sense of justice is insulted, to deliver a criminal to the police.
This “Robin Hood” approach aids to his legend among the Parisian populace.
The volume includes a story
that actually features Holmes, and in it the two men are presented as near-equals.
Of course, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did not appreciate another author using his
famous creation. The law was on Doyle’s side, so Leblance changed the name of
“his” character to Herlock Sholmes. No, really.
Now that these stories have
fallen into the public domain, Holmes’ name has been restored to the story for
recent publications. I enjoyed these stories, although they did fall short of
both Holmes and of Agatha Christie’s great detective, Hercule Poirot.
Source: The Classic TalesPodcast, which produces high-quality audio versions public domain literature.