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Fantômas

Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre

Book Overview: 

Fantômas is the first of 32 novels by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre. The title character is a ruthless thief and killer, a bloodthirsty successor to LeBlanc's Arsène Lupin. The first five novels were made into silent film serials. The character and the movies caught the eye of the French Surrealists who admired the primal violence of Fantômas, as well as his portrayal in the films, which are considered landmarks in French Cinema. In Fantômas, the Marquise de Langrune is savagely murdered and Inspector Juve, who is obsessed with capturing Fantômas, arrives to solve the murder.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . ., and his age makes it most improbable that he can be a professional criminal."

"Obviously, obviously!" murmured the magistrate, not a little embarrassed by the keen logic of the detective.[57]

"And now let us consider the motive or motives of the crime," Juve continued. "Why did the man commit this murder?"

"Doubtless for purposes of robbery," said the magistrate.

"What did he want to steal?" Juve retorted. "As a matter of fact, Mme. de Langrune's diamond rings and watch and purse were all found on her table, in full view of everybody; in the drawers that had been broken open I found other jewels, over twenty pounds in gold and silver, and three bank-notes in a card-case. What is your view, sir, of a crapulous robber who sees valuables like that within his reach, and who does not take them?"

"It is certainly surprising," the magistrate admitted.

"Very surprising; and goes to show that although the crime in itself i. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This is a work of French crime fiction from a century ago. Barely into it, I realized that Fantômas is the name the newspapers and detectives have given to the perpetrator of a number of gruesome crimes. I am frightened, because Fantômas is a being against whom it is idle to use ordinary weapons;...more

I am torn about my rating of the book. Time does not pass evenly, and not still clear about the motives for the murders. Some just robbed, others killed. The trial came and went, without the wife being called. It is a different crime novel for sure. The criminal is quite brilliant, which earns th...more

There are no ghosts here, despite the title. 'Just' a criminal mastermind terrorizing the faubourgs of Paris and the countryside chateaux, cca. 1910.

"Fantomas."
"What did you say?"
"I said: Fantomas."
"And what does that mean?"
"Nothing ... Everything!"
"But what is it?"
"Nobody ... And yet, yes...more

What a fun book! Fantomas is one seriously evil genius, and his nemesis, Inspector Juve, is one determined policeman. Not only is this book fun, but it ends in a complete cliffhanger so I had to buy book two, The Exploits of Juve (Juve contre Fantômas), just to see what happens. I have this feeli...more

this is why i find what books to read from various sources: no one would call this great literature, i know of it only vaguely because i remember hearing that the surrealists, dadaists, liked it, a friend gave me some dvds of the silents serials from 1915 and i decided to read this first, i decid...more

The famous illustration on the cover of this Penguin edition has been altered. What the arch-criminal Fantômas is grasping in his right hand is a bloody dagger which he is holding by the hilt, for which see the the original.

The eponymous character of Fantomas by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestr...more

Turn-of-the-century french pulp stories about a mysterious killer praying upon the aristocracy, loved by the surrealists? I ought to be wild about this. And after a rather slow first half, I'm warming to it. The characters are still rather flat, and the prose perfunctory (perhaps inevitably for a...more

Am I really only the fourth person in the Goodreads universe to have rated this twisty, classic-literature-yet-feels-like-an-airport-read book?

Full of tension, comedy, and unpredictable turn (though at times it stepped into a ridiculous zone, but I don't mind, as long as it keeps me enthralled),...more

Here's the problem with this book: I never really got any idea why Fantomas was doing all this shit. I mean, he gets up into these elaborate disguises so he can kill one person or another, but why does he want that person dead? Not really explained. And he also makes some pretty stupid mistakes f...more

What began as an expected, plain, elementary Whodunit becomes quite a crafty convolution in the end. Train-hopping, fake identities (including transvestites), bluffs, double bluffs, Bentillon dynamometers (rudimentary CSI), slit throats and gruesome violence, insane Victorians, specters, the begi...more

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