A boy detective takes on the most brilliant thief in Europe.
In a country manor, a terrible noise awakes the household. Downstairs, the estate’s secretary has been murdered. There are signs of a break-in, but everything appears to be in its proper place. What kind of thief would commit murder to steal nothing?
The first detective on the case is Isidore Beautrelet, a precocious teenager who wears a fake beard to disguise the fact that he has not yet graduated from high school. Although the other investigators do not take him seriously, Beautrelet is the one to pick up the trail of Arsène Lupin, the gentleman thief. Lupin, it is soon discovered, is chasing the most valuable object he has ever had the opportunity to steal: the Hollow Needle. Passed down for generations by the kings of France, it holds a secret that could undo the republic. No one has ever managed to foil one of Lupin’s fiendish plans, but Beautrelet is counting on beginner’s luck.
Maurice Marie Émile Leblanc (/ləˈblɑːn/; French: [ləblɑ̃]; was a French novelist and writer of short stories, known primarily as the creator of the fictional gentleman thief and detective Arsène Lupin, often described as a French counterpart to Arthur Conan Doyle's creation Sherlock Holmes.
The first Arsène Lupin story appeared in a series of short stories that was serialized in the magazine Je sais tout, starting in No. 6, dated 15 July 1905. Clearly created at editorial request, it’s possible that Leblanc had also read Octave Mirbeau's Les 21 jours d'un neurasthénique (1901), which features a gentleman thief named Arthur Lebeau, and he had seen Mirbeau's comedy Scrupules (1902), whose main character is a gentleman thief.
Leblanc's house in Étretat, today the museum Le Clos Arsène Lupin.
By 1907, Leblanc had graduated to writing full-length Lupin novels, and the reviews and sales were so good that Leblanc effectively dedicated the rest of his career to working on the Lupin stories. Like Conan Doyle, who often appeared embarrassed or hindered by the success of Sherlock Holmes and seemed to regard his success in the field of crime fiction as a detraction from his more "respectable" literary ambitions, Leblanc also appeared to have resented Lupin's success. Several times he tried to create other characters, such as private eye Jim Barnett, but he eventually merged them with Lupin. He continued to pen Lupin tales well into the 1930s.
Leblanc also wrote two notable science fiction novels: Les Trois Yeux (1919), in which a scientist makes televisual contact with three-eyed Venusians, and Le Formidable Evènement (1920), in which an earthquake creates a new landmass between England and France.
Leblanc was awarded the Légion d'Honneur for his services to literature and died in Perpignan in 1941. He was buried in the Montparnasse Cemetery. Georgette Leblanc was his sister.
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