French Detective Stories

While in the library, I discovered an anthology titled Great French Detective Stories.  Being curious, I picked up the work to be delighted by the quality of the stories.  Though one, “The Mystery of the Four Husbands” by Gaeton Leroux, struck me as more of a horror story, which evinces the influence Edgar Allen Poe, especially through his Inspector Dupin.  (Soon, I’ll have to read these works of Poe.)

One of the best mustaches I've ever seen.

One of the best mustaches I’ve ever seen.

This series of works held several surprises for me.  In particular, I was surprised to see that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle borrowed the scenario in Emile Gaboriau’s “The Little Old Man of Batignolles” for his A Study in Scarlet.  Not only did he borrow the scenario, but the inspector’s friend and assistant in the mystery is also a doctor!  But, I will say that Doyle writes a much more complicated mystery, and so, it may be considered a good theft.

I can't help but imagine that this would be a riveting story if done well.

I can’t help but imagine that this would be a riveting story if done well.

Other than Emile Gaboriau, I find Maurice Leblanc also fascinating to read.  I ought to be familiar with this author through anime: the eponymous hero of Lupin III is the grandson of Arsène Lupin, a thief who’s Leblanc’s most famous hero.  Arsène Lupin displays a remarkable degree of energy and cleverness in the short story I read, which involves him duping the police into helping him regain the money stolen from him which he himself had stolen!  Leblanc also seems to have written stories surrounding a detective hero named Jim Barrett.  This detective is brilliant, but has a caustically sarcastic personality.  He’s made my list as my least favorite detective in literature from one short story!

Maigret seems to have loved smoking his pipe much more than Sherlock Holmes from the story I read: he smoked three before the morning was over!

Maigret seems to have loved smoking his pipe much more than Sherlock Holmes from the story I read: he smoked three before the morning was over!

Another author who’s peaked my interest and whose volumes may easily be obtained in English is Georges Simenon.  In the library, I must have seen at least 15 volumes of his detective novels!  Unlike Sherlock Holmes, Maigret happens to be married and very well adjusted.  He enjoys a loving relationship with his wife and is quietly observant and tactful.  (Gaboriau’s detective, M. Méchinet, happens also to be married and consults his wife on cases.)  His character only came across as slightly interesting in the short story; but, since Maigret just retired, he followed the leads of a current inspector for the most part, and Simenon, as one who preferred the medium of novels, probably writes better stories when allowed to write at length.

You know that you've written an awesome fictional character if someone decides to build a statue of him!

You know that you’ve written an awesome fictional character if someone decides to build a statue of him!

That sums up what I have read so far.  I am almost reluctant to read further in the anthology lest my backlog of interesting authors to read increases.  One almost hopes that there are libraries in heaven so that one can have enough time!

 

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One thought on “French Detective Stories

  1. […] of you who remember my article on French detective fiction know that I was greatly impressed by the short story on Maurice Leblanc’s famed master thief, […]

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