Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar

If you saw the Sherlock Holmes movie, you may have wanted to try reading the original stories. Be my guest. You rarely run into one who regrets having read a Sherlock Holmes story (except perhaps, The Red-Headed League).

But if you'd like to read something a little edgier but still Holmesish, try Arsene Lupin.

The Lupin stories, begun in 1905, were France's answer to England's great detective. Lupin's also smart, clever, one-step-ahead and ready for anything ... but he's working the other side of the game. He's a master criminal.

How good is he? Well, he picks Sherlock Holmes' pocket in his first (apparently unauthorized)encounter with the detective.

The author, Maurice Leblanc, wrote many stories about Lupin. Start with "The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar."

I'm currently reading*, "The Blonde Lady," which is billed as the big title fight between Lupin and Holmes. (Although, Leblanc sometimes had to change Holmes' name, because of Arthur Conan Doyle's very understandable disapproval.)

Lupin's a fascinating character, as interested in getting his name in the papers as in grabbing the dough. And he's clever. He's way ahead of the police -- and the reader.
Some of the stories are better than others, but believe me when Lupin's game is afoot you're going to get blind-sided by some amazing plot twists.

*Actually, I'm listening to a free audiobook version from Librivox.org

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