by Rick Lai
Emile Gaboriau (1832-1873) created Monsieur Lecoq, one of the earliest detectives in literature. Lecoq was a major influence on Sherlock Holmes, Arsene Lupin and other fictional mystery characters. Gaboriau wrote five novels and one short story about Lecoq. The author also included characters from the Lecoq series in at least five other novels. Fortune Du Boisgobey (1821-91) also wrote one novel about Lecoq.
THE LECOQ SERIES AND RELATED WORKS: an * indicates that Lecoq does not appear in the story. All works are by Emile Gaboriau unless otherwise noted.
|French title||English Translation(s)|
|1) LAffaire Lerouge (1866)||The Widow Lerouge, Old Tabaret: The Self-Made Detective, Piping the Lerouge Case, The Lerouge Case|
|2) Le Crime dOrcival (1867)||The Mystery of Orcival, Crime at Orcival|
|3) Le Dossier No. 113 (1867)||File No. 113, Dossier No. 113, The Blackmailers|
|4) Les Esclaves des Paris (1868)||The Slaves of Paris, also published as two separate volumes with different titles: Caught in the Net and The Champdoce Mystery|
|5) Monsieur Lecoq (1869)||Monsieur Lecoq, Lecoq the Detective, also published as two separate volumes with different titles: The first volume has been published as Monsieur Lecoq or The Detectives Dilemma. The second has been published as The Honor of the Name.|
|6)*La Vie Infernale (1870)||The Counts Secret, also published as two separate volumes with different titles: The Counts Millions and Baron Trigaults Vengeance|
|7) *La Clique Doree (1871)||The Clique of Gold, The Gilded Clique|
|8) *La Degringolade (1872)||The Downward Path, Catastrophe|
|9) *La Corde au Cou (1873)||Within an Inch of His Life, In Deadly Peril, In Peril of His Life|
|10) *LArgent des Autres (1874)||Other Peoples Money, A Great Robbery, Piping a Series of Bank Frauds|
|11) Une Disparition in Le Petite Vieux des Batingoles (1876)||A Disappearance in The Little Old Man of Batignoles|
|12) Le Vieillesse de Monsieur Lecoq (1878) by Fortune Du Boisgobey||The Old Age of Lecoq the Detective, The Old Age of Monsieur Lecoq|
RECURRING CHARACTERS IN GABORIAUS FICTION
Pere Tabaret unofficial member of the French police and Lecoqs mentor. Tabaret appeared in LAffaire Lerouge and Monsieur Lecoq. He was also briefly mentioned in La Vie Infernale (part I, chap. 9).
Gevrol police inspector known as the General. He was Lecoqs superior in LAffaire Lerouge and Monsieur Lecoq. Gevrol was also very critical of Tabaret.
The Sairmeuse family This noble family appeared primarily in Monsieur Lecoq. Their history in that book is full of chronological contradictions. At the conclusion of Monsieur Lecoq, the Duke de Sairmeuse was a childless widower with a huge fortune. In LAffaire Lerouge (chap. 8), which chronologically happened after Monsieur Lecoq, the Duke was not only a man with a large family, but was faced with severe financial problems. Other novels mentioned that the Duke of Sairmeuse was a relative or friend of other characters.
The Chupin family - family of criminals whose history became linked to that of the Sairmeuse family in Monsieur Lecoq. The most prominent member of this family was Victor Toto Chupin. He was a young boy in Monsieur Lecoq and a teen-aged criminal in Les Esclaves de Paris. He reformed and became a private investigator in La Vie Infernale. He also played a small part in the events of LArgent des Autres.
The Champdoce family a noble family whose history was given in Les Esclaves de Paris. The novel concerned the search of the Duke de Champdoce for his missing son Andre. The Duke was reunited with Andre, who apparently succeeded to the title shortly thereafter. In La Clique Doree, the Duke of Champdoce appeared, and he was clearly Andre. It was through the efforts of Andre that Victor Chupin was reformed. Andres wife, the Duchess of Champdoce, was briefly mentioned in Le Corde Au Cou (part II, chap. 1).
The Commarin family a noble family that appeared in LAffaire Lerouge. The Count de Commarin in that novel was a widower. His son, who married at the conclusion of the novel, apparently succeeded to the title in later novels. Gaboriaus other fiction mentioned parties associated with the Countess de Commarin. The Commarin family moved in the same social circles as the Sairmeuse and Champdoce families.
The dArlange family Clare dArlange and her grandmother are featured in LAffaire Lerouge and Monsieur Lecoq. Members of the family were briefly mentioned in both Dossier No. 113 (chap. 13) and La Degringolade (part II, chap. 11).
The Chalusse and Gordon families The Chalusse family was another of Gaboriaus noble families. The struggle for the fortune of the deceased Count de Chalusse was at the heart of the events in La Vie Infernale. The Counts sister married an American criminal, Arthur Gordon. Their son, Wilkie Gordon eventually changed his name to Gordon-Chalusse. Besides La Vie Infernale, Wilkie appeared in La Clique Doree. The Chalusse family was related to the Boiscoran family from Le Corde Au Cou (part I, chap. 6).
The Mascarot (Mascarin in some translations) family a family of criminals whose primary history was told in Les Esclaves de Paris. The patriarch of this family was Baptiste Mascarot, a master criminal with similarities to two later villains from Sir Arthur Conan Doyles Sherlock Holmes series, Professor Moriarty and Charles Augustus Milverton. Mascarot had a daughter, Flavia, who married another criminal, Paul Violaine. Mascarot was arrested by Lecoq, but there was no evidence against his daughter and son-in-law. Taking the alias of Ferdinand de Coralth, Paul committed crimes in La Vie Infernale. The same novel revealed that Paul and Flavia had a son.
Van Klopen corrupt fashion designer. Although the rage of Parisian society, he was part of the Mascarot gang in Les Esclaves de Paris. Van Klopen was actually first mentioned in Le Dossier No. 113 (chap. 5). Although Lecoq claimed to have enough evidence to arrest Van Klopen, the dressmaker was sill running a prospering business in La Vie Infernale, La Degringolade and LArgent des Autres.
Baron de Breulh-Faverlay (also known as de Breulh) Honorable nobleman, of great wealth in Les Esclaves de Paris. He also had a rather mysterious set of adventures in South America. He was briefly mentioned in La Vie Infernale (part II, chap. 11).
Jenny Fancy courtesan whose real name was Pelagie Taponnet. She was the one-time mistress of Count de Tremorel in Le Crime dOrcival. She was also an early client at Van Klopens (Les Esclaves de Paris, part I, chap. 11). There also was some unrecorded scandal at an establishment run by her (La Vie Infernale, part 1, chap, 4).
Prosper Bertomy a clerk at a banking firm in Le Dossier No. 113. Lecoq cleared him of false charges of embezzlement. After marrying his employers daughter, Prosper took over the firm. At the time of La Vie Infernale, the firm was flourishing. Prosper also had an affair with Nina Gypsy, Lecoqs mistress.
Patrigent the investigating judge in Le Dossier No. 113. According to Monsieur Lecoq (part I, chap. 19), Patrigent invented the trick of releasing a captured criminal and then following him to discover the whereabouts of his confederates.
Barbican dAvranchel investigating judge in La Degringolade and LArgent des Autres.
Jacques Trigault. Later known as Baron Trigault (also called Baronne de Trigault) sympathetic gambler in La Vie Infernale. He was briefly mentioned in La Degringolade (part 5, chap. 2).
Janouille Lecoqs aged housekeeper. She was featured in Le Crime dOrcival and Le Dossier No. 113.
Palot police agent working for Lecoq. He appeared in Le Crime dOrcival, Le Dossier No. 113 and Les Esclaves de Paris.
Clergot moneylender who appeared in LAffaire Lerouge and Les Esclaves de Paris.
The Mutual Discount Society This company was mentioned at least twice by Gaboriau. In both La Clique Doree and LArgent des Autres, totally different embezzlement cases occurred at this company. The Mutual Discount Society is not to be confused with the Mutual Loan Society, a company aligned with Mascarot in Les Esclaves de Paris, or the Mutual Credit Society, a company whose financial collapse is at the center of LArgent des Autres. In a Gaboriau novel, company whose name began with Mutual and ended in Society were not wise investments.
THE THREE CONFLICTING ORIGIN STORIES FOR LECOQ
Gaboriau offered three conflicting versions of Lecoqs origins. The first version was in LAffaire Lerouge. Lecoq was an ex-criminal. He had become reconciled to the law, and was now a member of the French police. Gaboriau was here basing Lecoq on Francoise Eugene Vidocq (1775-1857), the ex-convict who rose to the position of head of the French police. According to Samuel Edwards The Vidocq Dossier (1977), there was a police regulation passed around the time of Vidocqs resignation in 1833. The regulation forbade the police from employing any ex-convicts as officers. If this regulation was still in effect in the 1860s, then there may be an explanation why Gaboriau felt the need to revise Lecoqs past.
The second version can be found in Le Crime dOrcival. The year of the novel was given as 186-, and the dates mentioned were consistent with 1864. Lecoqs age was given as thirty-five. Therefore, he was born in 1829. At the age of twenty (in 1849), Lecoq was hired to act as the assistant to an astronomer. He was paid seventy francs a month. Lecoq amused himself by plotting imaginary crimes. He wrote down a scheme that would rob any banker of 200,000 francs without any difficulty. Although tempted to become a criminal. Lecoq then decided that he should become a policeman. He quit the job with the astronomer, and then joined the police.
The third version appeared in Monsieur Lecoq. The year of the novel was given as 186-, but the dates mentioned were consistent with 1859. Since Monsieur Lecoq clearly happened before LAffaire Lerouge (a novel set in 1862), then the year of 1859 seems logical. In Monsieur Lecoq, the detectives age is given as twenty-five or twenty-six. Therefore, he was born in 1833 or 1834. Lecoq was the son of a prosperous Norman family. At the age of twenty, his parents became financially ruined and died shortly thereafter. Lecoq was forced to abandon law studies in Paris. He tried several jobs before becoming an assistant to Baron Moser, the astronomer. His salary was a hundred francs a month. After five years of working for the astronomer, Lecoq became frustrated. He wrote up complex illegal schemes. He devised a plan to illegally obtain five or six hundred francs from London only using two letters and a telegram. Lecoq showed this scheme to Moser. The astronomer gave Lecoq a months pay in advance and then dismissed him. Moser gave Lecoq the advice that he should either be a detective or a criminal. Lecoq decided to be a detective. Receiving a letter of recommendation from Moser, Lecoq gained employment with the police months before the events of Monsieur Lecoq.
In my chronological reconstruction of Lecoqs origin, I combine elements of all three conflicting stories. I theorize that Lecoq actually became a criminal for a short period, but never was formally charged with any crimes.
There are many chronological contradictions in Gaboriaus works. I discuss the contradictions in some of the notes to the chronology.
If Gaboriau didnt mention a specific year in the novels (like he did in LAffaire Lerouge and Le Dossier No. 113), he generally referred to the year being 186-. The dates in the novel can then be used to determine the exact year.
CHRONOLOGY OF THE LECOQ UNIVERSE
Birth of Pere (Father) Tabaret
Birth of Baptiste Mascarot (1).
Birth of Inspector Gevrol.
After years in exile due to the French Revolution and the First Empire, the Sairmeuse family returned to France. The Duke de Sairmeuse regains possession of his ancestral estate from the Lacheneur family. This action leads to a feud between the Lacheneur and Sairmeuse families (2).
Birth of Arthur Gordon (3).
Birth of Jacques Trigault (4).
Tabaret is working as a clerk in a pawnbrokers firm (5). He is earning two thousand francs a year. His father suddenly appears at his apartment. Tabarets father claims to be bankrupt. Young Tabaret agrees to support his father.
Birth of the man later known as Baron de Breulh-Faverlay. His original surname is de Breulh.
The Count de Commarin concocts a bizarre scheme to swap the infant son of his wife with the infant son of his mistress.
The birth of Monsieur Lecoq, the son of prosperous Norman parents.
Charles X, absolutist king of France, is overthrown in a revolution. His cousin, Louis Philippe, becomes a constitutional monarch.
Young Tabaret falls in love with a woman named Hortense. Due to Tabarets financial burden of supporting his father, he is unable to marry Hortense.
The man known as Father Absinthe (or Pere Absinthe) joins the French police.
Texas rebels against Mexican rule. Arthur goes to Texas where he leads a group of brigands. Gordons gang commits crimes in the name of revolution (6)
Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, unsuccessfully attempts to stir up rebellions against Louis Philippe. One rebellion is launched under the leadership of the Lacheneur family. The current Duke de Sairmeuse suppresses this rebellion. There is a chronologically distorted account of these events by Emile Gaboriau. The distortions were due to censorship applied by Napoleon Bonapartes nephew (7).
Arthur Gordon becomes a sailor participating in the slave trade. He eventually rises to become the captain of a slave ship.
Birth of Palmyre Chocareille (alias Nina Gypsy) in Paris, daughter of James Chocareille, undertakers assistant and of Caroline Piedlent, his wife.
Baptiste Mascarot is etching out a meager existence as a tutor of algebra and geometry to boys preparing for the military colleges (8). His wife Marie is dying of consumption in a garret that they shared with Mascarots two friends, Catenac and Hortebise. In the Café Semblon, he discovers a compromising letter accidentally left by a customer. Mascarot bring the letter to the customer with the intention of only asking for a hundred francs as a reward.When the customer treats him like a blackmailer, Mascarot successfully asked for two thousand francs.After returning to the garret, Mascarot and his two friends decide to set up a blackmail ring.
Birth of Paul Violaine.
Arthur Gordon seduces Hermine de Chalusse. Her brother, Raymond, is severely wounded by Gordon in a duel. Arthur and Hermine flee to the United States where they are married.
Birth of Andre (actually Anne Rene), the son of the Duke of Champdoce. Falsely believing that his son is the result of an adulterous affair conducted by his wife, the Duke has the infant swapped with the young child of a local prostitute. Andre is placed in an orphanage.
Both of Raymond de Chalusses parents die. Raymond becomes Count de Chalusse.
Birth of Wilkie Gordon, son of Arthur and Hermine Gordon, in Richmond, Virginia (9).
Mascarot founds the Servants Registry Office. On the surface, the firms purpose is to find places of employment for servants. The servants placed by the firm will look for compromising letters to be used in blackmail operations (10).
Birth of Pelagie Taponnet (alias Jenny Fancy).
Mascarot creates the Servants Home, another front for his blackmail ring. The Servants Home ostensibly provides shelter for unemployed servants.
A daughter is born to Jacques Trigault and his wife.
Tabarets father dies. To his shock, Tabaret discovers that his father had deceived him. Tabarets father was secretly a miserly landlord. In fact, Tabaret had been paying his father rent. Now extremely wealthy (11), Tabaret retires from his job. He becomes a fanatical book collector. He becomes friendly with two of his tenants, Madame Gerdy and her young son Noel. Unknown to Tabaret, Noel Gerdy is actually the son of Count de Commarin.
The monarchy of Louis Philippe is overthrown in a revolution. The Second Republic is proclaimed in France. Louis Napoleon Bonaparte is elected President.
Monsieur de Breulh, now twenty years old, departs for South America.
Lecoq is pursuing law studies in Paris. After discovering that they are financially ruined, both of Lecoqs parents die (12). Abandoning his law studies, Lecoq tries his hand at many jobs. Eventually, he becomes a secretary to Baron Moser, the wealthy astronomer. Lecoqs starting salary is seventy francs a months.
As the result of an affair with a woman from Gentilly (13). Lecoqs illegitimate son, known as Louis Lecoq de Gentilly, is born. The mother hides the birth of the son from Lecoq. She sends the child to England to be raised.
Trigault goes to California to participate in the Gold Rush. His wife becomes the mistress of Count de Chalusse.
Birth of Victor Toto Chupin, son of Polyte and Toinon Chupin (14).
Birth of Flavia (or Flavie) Mascarot, daughter of Baptiste Mascarot. Shortly after the birth of their daughter, Baptistes consumptive wife dies.
Birth of Marguerite, the illegitimate daughter of Count de Chalusse and Mrs. Trigault. Marguerite is put in an orphanage by her mother.
Van Klopen, a Dutch resident of Rotterdam (15), moves to Paris to set up a fashion business. He becomes known as the Regenerator of Fashion.
Arthur Gordon and family arrive in Paris (16). Hermine runs away from her husband and takes young Wilkie with her.
Now extremely wealthy, Jacques Trigault returns to France from America. He becomes disillusioned when he hears rumors of his wifes illegitimate child. Jacques accidentally stumbles upon a starving Hermine Gordon. He offers to set her up as the proprietress of a public gambling house. Hermine agrees to the plan, and assumes the alias of Lia dArgeles. Wilkie Gordon is sent away to a boarding school in France. The young boy is enrolled under the surname of Wilkie.
General Pierre Delorge is approached by supporters of President Bonaparte to participate in a military coup. When the general refuses, he is murdered. The murderers make the death seem like a suicide (told in La Degringolade). This deception fools the investigating magistrate, Barbican dAvranchel. The coup proceeds as planned, and President Bonaparte assumes dictatorial powers.
The Mutual Credit Society is founded (17).
After reading the memoirs of a detective, Tabaret decides to become a sleuth himself (18).He reads every book that he can find about the police. Tabaret offers his services to the officials at the Prefecture of Police as an unpaid operative. Although initially reluctant to accept Tabarets offer, the book collectors enthusiasm eventually wins the officials over.
Palmyre Chocareille is apprenticed to a shoemaker.
Louis Napoleon Bonaparte assumes the title of Emperor Napoleon III. The Second Republic becomes the Second Empire.
Jacques Trigault purchases the title of Baron (19).
Monsieur de Breulh nearly starves to death at a cattle ranch in Sonora, Mexico. He is working at the humblest position in the ranch. (20).
Tabaret gains fame by solving the case of Mrs. B____, the bankers wife who faked the theft of her own money. Tabaret becomes known as Pere Tirauclair (Father Bring-to-Light).
Lecoq becomes frustrated after working five years for Baron Moser. His salary is now a hundred francs a month (only thirty francs more than when he started). Lecoq plans complex robberies and swindles in his garret apartment. He shows Moser one of the schemes, a plan to rob a London company of five or six hundred francs using two letters and a telegram. Moser gives Lecoq a months pay in advance and these words of advice: When one has your disposition, and is poor, one may either become a famous thief or a great detective. Lecoq decides to become a great thief. He embarks on a criminal career using a scheme to rob a banker of 200,000 francs.
Palmyre Chocareille leaves the shoemaker.
Palmyre works as a servant for a grocer, Dombas, for three months. She will also work at eight different places during the same year.
A tailor, Kaiser Dereme (21), shows a knife at a inn and makes threats concerning his unfaithful wife. Mrs. Dereme is found murdered with a knife between her shoulder blades. Directing the investigation. Tabaret has Dereme arrested. Dereme dies on the guillotine. It is revealed that Mrs. Dereme was murdered by her lover. Tabaret is devastated by the revelation that he had sent an innocent man to the guillotine.
Lecoq is a successful criminal, but he squanders his money on gambling and women. He robs a London firm using the plan that he had shown Moser. When Moser reads of the crime in a newspaper, he realizes that Lecoq chose to become a thief. The astronomer enlists the assistant of Tabaret to track down Lecoq. Tabaret successfully finds Lecoq. Having send an innocent man to the guillotine. Tabaret now sees the opportunity to reform a guilty man. Tabaret offers Lecoq the choice of going to jail or becoming a detective. Lecoq agrees to abandon his life of crime. Moser writes a letter of recommendation that enables Lecoq to be hired by the police. Lecoqs criminal past remains a closely guarded secret of Moser and Tabaret (22).
Palmyre Chocareille is employed in the store of a fan-merchant. Near the end of the year, she is hired as a servant by Madame Munes. Palmyre accompanies her mistress to Lisbon, Portugal.
The main events of Monsieur Lecoq unfold. Employed as a subordinate by Gevrol in the French police, Lecoq feels frustrated by his superior. Lecoqs big break comes when he is present at the arrest of a man who has apparently killed a group of attackers in self-defense. The prisoner claims to be a circus performer named May, but Lecoq convinces the examining magistrate that the prisoner is lying. Lecoq is assisted in his investigations by Father Absinthe, who gives the young detective the nickname of Monsieur Lecoq. Lecoq has May released in order to follow him (23). However, May outwits Lecoq and escapes. Lecoq then presents the facts to Tabaret. It is actually Tabaret, not Lecoq, who provides the solution to the mystery (24). The solution involves a dark secret of the Sairmeuse family. Able to act on Tabarets deductions, Lecoq is promoted to an inspector. He adopts the motto of Semper Vigilans (Always Vigilant).
Count de Chalusse hires Tabaret to find his missing daughter.
Monsieur de Breulh returns to France from South America. His uncle the Marquis de Faverlay dies and leaves his money to de Breulh. As a condition of the Marquis will, de Breulh changes his name to de Breulh-Faverlay.
Late in the year, Count Hector de Tremoel makes Pelagie Taponnet his mistress. She has recently celebrated her sixteenth birthday (25). She changes her name to Jenny Fancy.
Isidore Fortunat establishes a private detective agency in Paris. Its main function is to find missing heirs (26).
Now known as Nina Gypsy, Palmyre Chocareille returns to Paris from Portugal. She is arrested for assault and battery (27), and sentenced to three months imprisonment.
Lecoq decides to hire a housekeeper. Reviewing the records of three or four thousand convicts, he picks Janouille, an old crone convicted of infanticide and arson (28). He arranges her release
Count de Tremorel dismisses Jenny Fancy to romance Clement Sauvresys wife (29).
The Duke de Sairmeuse from Monsieur Lecoq dies. His title is transferred to a distant relative with several children and financial difficulties. The new Dukes oldest son is an adult (30).
The events of LAffaire Lerouge unfold. Although an inspector, Lecoq is still subordinate to Gevrol (31). When Gevrol investigates the murder of a woman named Lerouge, Lecoq seeks to embarrass him by persuading the supervising magistrate to bring Tabaret into the case. Tabaret discovers that the murder is linked to the 1829 baby-swapping stratagem of Count de Commarin and involves his tenants, the Gerdy family. The final outcome of this case leaves Tabaret in a state of severe depression. He retires totally from police work. Tabaret circulates a petition to abolish capital punishment, and organizes a society for aiding the poor and the falsely accused.
Tabarets retirement causes Count de Chalusse to hire Isidore Fortunat to search for his daughter.
After her release form prison, Nina Gypsy becomes the mistress of Caldas, a traveling agent. Caldas is really one of Lecoqs false identities. As Caldras, Lecoq provides a house for her. Nina adopts the surname of Caldas. Nina is not Lecoqs only mistress at this time. He still continues to see the woman from Gentilly.
After learning of his spouses infidelity from Jenny Fancy, Sauvresy is poisoned by his wife.
A criminal captured by Lecoq is sentenced to transportation to Cayenne. The convicted felon swears vengeance.
In the aftermath of Tabarets retirement, members of the French police transfer his title of Pere Tirauclair (Father Bring-to-Light) to Lecoq (32).
Count de Tremorel marries Sauvresys widow.
Escaping from Cayenne, the convict returns to France. Posing as a railway porter delivering a package, the convict unsuccessfully tries to shoot Lecoq. The would-be assassin is apprehended by Janouille and Lecoq.
The primary events of Le Crime dOrcival unfold. The Count de Tremorel murders his wife and flees with his pregnant mistress, Laurence Courtois. Plantat, a magistrate in love with Laurence, works with Lecoq to investigate the crime. Through Jenny Fancy, Lecoq is able to find the Count. Laurence shoots the Counts, but Plantat and Lecoq agree to make the death look like suicide. Plantat announces his intention to marry Laurence and raise Tremorels child as his own.
Nina, reverting back to her Gypsy surname, leaves Caldas (Lecoq) to become the mistress of Prosper Bertomy. Lecoq abandons his Caldas identity.
Lecoq begins to investigate Baptiste Mascarots activities.
After an undistinguished academic career, Wilkie Gordon (known as Monsieur Wilkie) settles in Paris. His mother provides a generous allowance for him through intermediaries, but she never contacts him.Wilkie hasnt seen his mother since 1851, and has no idea what has happened to her.
The woman from Gentilly dies (33). In her papers, Lecoq discovers proof that he has a son living in England. Lecoq finds, his son, known as Louis Lecoq de Gentilly, at a boarding school in Clapham, England. Lecoq removes Louis from England and sends him to schools in Germany.
Due to Fortunats efforts, Count de Chalusse find his daughter Marguerite.
Sarah Brandon (real name: Ernestine Bergot) seduces Malgat, a cashier at the Mutual Discount Society. After he embezzles the companys money, Malgat is deserted by Sarah.
The Count de Commarin apparently dies (34). His title is inherited by his only surviving son whose wife becomes a mayor hostess in society circles.
The false son of the Duke of Champdoce dies. The Duke begins a search for his real son.
The primary events of Le Dossier No. 113 unfold. Prosper Bertomy is carrying on simultaneous romances with Nina Gypsy and his employers daughter, Madeleine Fauvel Prosper is framed for embezzlement by unscrupulous parties. Lecoq becomes determined to prove Prospers innocence. Lecoqs motive is to show Nina that he is superior to Prosper. After his innocence is demonstrated by Lecoq, Prosper marries Madeleine. Lecoq reveals to Nina that he was Caldas. Nina again becomes Lecoqs mistress.
The primary events of Les Esclaves de Paris unfold. Mascarots daughter, Flavia, falls in love with Paul Violaine. Mascarot creates an elaborate scheme to pass off Violaine as the missing Champdoce heir. When the existence of the real heir, Andre, is uncovered, Mascarot instructs the young Victor Toto Chupin to kill Andre. The assassination attempts fails. Chupin, overcome by remorse, surrenders to the police. Lecoq gathers evidence against Mascarot and all his accomplices, which include Van Klopen the fashion designer. Paul and Flavia are married. Lecoq arrests Mascarot and most of his henchmen. There is no evidence against Paul and Flavia, and they are permitted to go free. Andre is recognized as the Dukes son. Andre marries Sabine de Mussidan, the former fiancée of Baron de Breulh-Faverlay.
The case against Van Klopen collapses for reasons unknown. The dressmaker remains at liberty.
Andre decides not to prosecute Victor Chupin. He decides to gain revenge against Chupin by reforming. Remembering the roles of Moser and Tabaret in his own reformation, Lecoq agrees to Andres scheme.
Tabaret dies. His will leaves all his money to Lecoq (35), who retires from the police. The detective adopts the identity of Lecoq de Gentilly. Although retired from the police, Lecoq remains in contact with his colleagues and occasionally offers advice. Lecoq disguises himself to look older in his de Gentilly identity (36).
Victor Chupin becomes a inquiry agent for Isidore Fortunat.
A son is born to Paul and Flavia. Paul deserts his wife and adopts the identity of Ferdinand de Coralth.
There is some scandal at a gambling establishment run by Jenny Fancy (37).
The primary events of La Vie Infernale unfold. Following the death of Count de Chalusse, various unscrupulous parties (including Violaine in his de Coralth identity) attempt to gain control of the Chalusse fortune by manipulating Marguerite and Wilkie Gordon. All of these efforts fail largely due to the intervention of Baron Trigault and Victor Chupin. Wilkies mother adopts the identity of the Widow Gordon (38) in order to operate a home for wayward girls. The Chalusse fortune is divided between Marguerite, who marries Pascal Ferailleur, and Wilkie Gordon, who lives only for personal pleasure. Wilkie changes his surname to the more aristocratic Gordon-Chalusse. Quitting the employ of the somewhat shady Isidore Fortunat, Chupin is set up in his own business by Ferailleur. Paul Violaine escapes with ten thousand pounds. He reclaims his abandoned wife and child, and they all disappear (39).
Another cashier at the Mutual Discount Society in Paris embezzles his companys funds. A policeman named Goudar catches the thief in Canada and recovers the money in London. Goudars actions impress Folgat, the attorney for the companys investors.
When his father dies, Andre becomes the Duke of Champdoce.
Wilkie Gordon-Chalusse attempts to woo the unscrupulous Sarah Brandon.
The primary events of La Clique Doree unfold (40). Sarah Brandon marries the elderly Count Ville-Handry over the objections of his daughter, Henrietta. Sarah then uses the Count as the figurehead in a complex stock market swindle. She seeks help from her friends the Duke and Duchess of Champdoce, but discovers that they are in Italy (41). Sarah drives Henrietta from the family estate, and the young girl nearly commits suicide. She is rescued by Malgat, the embezzler whom Sarah betrayed years earlier. Through Malgats efforts, Sarahs criminal actions are finally exposed. Sarah commits suicide with poison.
The events of Une Disparition unfold. A retired Lecoq is consulted by Retiveau (alias Magloire), a police detective, about the mysterious disappearance of a manufacturer of imitation jewelry (42).
The relatives of General Delorge finally prove that his 1851 death was murder not suicide (told in La Degringolade). The evidence is turned over to Barbican dAvranchel.
Louis Lecoq de Gentilly is a student at Heidelberg.
The Franco-Prussian War erupts. The French military defeat at Sedan causes Napoleon III to abdicate. The Third republic is proclaimed in France.
When the Prussians advance on Paris, Van Klopen flees the city.
In Heidelberg, Louis is interred as an enemy alien (43).
The Franco-Prussian War ends.
Van Klopen returns to Paris.
Louis Lecoq de Gentilly returns to France.
The primary events of La Corde au Cou unfold. Jacques de Boiscoran is falsely accused of arson and murder. Folgat, his lawyer asks Goular to investigate. Goular proves the innocence of Folgats client.
The primary events of events of LArgent des Autres unfold. The Mutual Credit Society collapses due to the embezzlement of funds. Supposedly the companys cashier was the only culprit, but the Marquis de Tregars suspects otherwise. The Marquis asks the Duke of Champdoce for the name of a competent investigator. The Duke recommends Victor Chupin. With Chupins help, the Marquis reveals the full scope of Mutual Credit Society scandal to the investigating magistrate, Barbican dAvranchel.
Louis Lecoq de Gentilly, now a doctor of laws and a notarys clerk, is framed for murder and sentenced to death. Monsieur Lecoq emerges from retirement to prevent the execution by proving his sons innocence. Louis marries Therese Lecomte.
Birth of a daughter to Louis and Therese.
1. Mascarots age was not given in Les Esclaves de Paris, but his longtime friend and associate, Dr. Hortebise was fifty-six (part I, chap. 3). Therefore, it is likely that Mascarot was roughly the same age.
2. In Monsieur Lecoq, there is a long flashback sequence mainly set in 1815-16. The Sairmeuse family returned to France in 1815, and this event sparked a Bonapartist uprising in 1816. The 1816 date would mean that over forty years separated the flashback from the Lecoq portion of the novel. However, characters who were in their twenties during the 1816 events were in their forties during the 1859 events. It would make more sense if the Bonapartist uprising happened in 1836, twenty-one years after the return of the Sairmeuses return to France. There were such revolts in 1836. These 1836 insurrections were instigated by Louis Napoleon Bonaparte who became Emperor of France in 1852. When Gaboriau wrote Monsieur Lecoq, Napoleon III was still Emperor. Gaboriau probably felt it wise not to discuss the Emperors early efforts to seize power, so he wrote the flashback scenes in 1816 rather than in 1836. My theory is that Gaboriau combined two generations of the various French families involved when distorting the flashback scenes. The Duke de Sairmeuse of 1859 was depicted as the son of the Duke of 1815. In my theory, he was really the grandson.
3. Arthur Gordon was twenty-six when he met Hermine Chalusse (La Vie Infernale, part II, chap. 15). This event happened about twenty-five years before the main events of the novel (part I, chap. 2). Therefore, Gordon was about fifty-six when the novel transpired.
4. Trigault was about thirty when he met Hermine Gordon (La Vie Infernale, part II, chap. 15) in 1851.
5. There is slightly different information regarding Tabarets employment in two different English translations of LAffaire Lerouge. In a 1904 translation (The Widow Lerouge) published by Charles Scribners and Sons, Tabaret woked for an unnamed pawnbroker (chap. 2). In the Project Gutenberg e-text, The Lerouge Case, the translated passage has Tabaret working for a firm identified as Mont de Piete Monsieur Lecoq also identified Tabarets employer as Mont de Piete (part 1, chap. 22). The resourceful Dennis E. Power has identified Mont de Piete as an actual French company whose functions were similar to a pawnbrokers.
6. Gordon was actually identified as having fought in Mexico at the head of one of those guerilla bands which makes politics an excuse for pillage and murder (La Vie Infernale, part II, chap. 15). Technically, Texas was still part of Mexico at the start of 1836. The Texas insurrection in 1836 is the most likely time for Gordon to have been in Mexico.
7. See note 2. Gaboriau disliked Napoleon III. After the Emperors downfall, Gaboriau wrote La Degringolade in which close supporters of the monarch committed a murder.
8. This episode in Mascarots career is similar to the period when Professor Moriarty, a mathematician, was an Army Coach in Doyles The Final Problem.
9. Gaboriau was inconsistent with Wilkie Gordons age. His age was somewhere between twenty-two and twenty-four in La Vie Infernale (part I, chap. 18). Some statements in the novel support an age twenty-two but others support twenty-four. I accept twenty-four as his age based on the fact that his parents met twenty five years ago (part II, chap. 15) plus a statement implying that Hermine was already pregnant when she married Arthur (reference to unborn child, part II, chap. 6).
10. This is similar to the modus operandi of the title villain of Doyles The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton. A theory could be constructed that Milverton copied Mascarot, but Mascarot stated that the English criminals were his superiors in the art of blackmail and had devised cleverer ways for corrupting servants (Les Esclaves de Paris, part I, chap. 18). Milverton, who was born around 1849, may have studied the methods of one of Mascarots English contemporaries.
11. There is a contradictory passage in Monsieur Lecoq (part I, chap. 22) where it is asserted that Tabarets inheritance came not from a deceitful father but from a relative, of whom he had scarcely heard.
12. Gaboriau had a habit of having both of a characters parents die after a severe shock or loss (cf. the death of Raymond de Chalusses parents in La Vie Infernale). The details of the death of Lecoqs parents are vague. The father may have committed suicide in the wake of financial ruin. It is stated that the mother died a few hours after the father. Perhaps she committed suicide after discovering her husbands body.
13. This unnamed woman and her son were the inventions of Fortune Du Boisgobey. In Gaboriaus Le Crime dOrcival (chap .10), Lecoq mused about being then in love with a deceitful woman who easily manipulated him. This woman does not appear to be Nina Gypsy, the mistress whom Lecoq manipulated in Le Dossier No. 113. Therefore, it is likely that Gaboriaus deceitful woman and Du Boisgobeys Gentilly woman were one in the same. Jean-Marc Lofficer has identified the woman from Gentilly as Jean Roussel. After the birth of Louis Lecoq de Gentilly, she married a rich stockbroker named Ballmeyer. She then had another son (born around 1850-52) who was nominally her husbands child but really Lecoqs. For further information about the career of Lecoqs second son (as told by novelist Gaston Leroux), go to http://www.coolfrenchcomics.com/lecoq.htm. For information about other relatives of Monsieur Lecoq, including the possibility that Lecoqs father may not have died in 1849, the reader is advised to navigate to http://www.coolfrenchcomics.com/wnu11.htm.
14. Toto Chupin was clearly eighteen in Les Esclaves de Paris (part I, chap. 1), a novel set in 1867. However, his age was less than five in Monsieur Lecoq (part 1, chap. 15). I believe that Gaboriau just made a mistake. Chupin was just under ten years in Monsieur Lecoq.
15. Although depicted as a Dutchman in Les Esclaves de Paris and La Vie Infernale, Van Klopen was described as a Prussian in La Degringolade (part III, chap. 6).
16. Wilkie remembered being about four years old when his family returned to France (La Vie Infernale, part II, chap. 5). However, he was actually six years old. This inconsistency of Wilkies age resulted from Gaboriaus confusion over whether Wilkie was twenty-two or twenty-four during the novels main events (see note 9).
17. Gaboriau frequently used the plot device of an enormous stock market swindle being conducted involving a nobleman. The Mutual Credit Society was under the direction of Baron de Thaller. In Les Esclaves de Paris, Mascarot plotted with the Marquis de Croisnois to launch the worthless Tapila Copper Mines, Limited. In La Clique Doree, Sarah Brandon used Count Ville-Handry as the fall guy for the fraudulent Franco-American Society of Pennsylvania Oil-Wells. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was probably thinking of Gaboriaus complex swindles when he alluded to an unrecorded case of Sherlock Holmes, the whole question of the Netherlands-Sumatra Company and of the colossal schemes of Baron Maupertius, in The Adventure of the Reigate Squires.
18. The book was unquestionably the Memoires of Francois Eugene Vidocq.
19. Although Trigault returned to France in 1851, he could only have purchased a title from the corrupt Second Empire. Therefore, I believe that he acquired the title around 1853.
20. Baron de Breulh-Faverlay professed to have been in Sonora when he was Andres age (Les Escalaves de Paris, part I, chap. 19) . Andre was twenty-three at the tome this statement was made. The Baron was slightly under forty (part I, chap. 12).
21. LAffaire Lerouge refers to the tailor as both Dereme (chap. 1) and Kaiser (chap. 12). I assume that his full name was Kaiser Dereme. There are differences in two English translations of Gaboriaus book (see note #5). The Gutenberg E-text translation had the tailor being rescued from the guillotine after his unjust conviction. Gevrol provided the evidence to clear Dereme in this version of the story. In the 1904 hardcover translation, Dereme definitely was beheaded. This contradiction was pointed out to me by Dennis E. Power.
22. That whole section was speculation on my part to explain the three conflicting origin stories about Lecoq.
23. In Du Boisgobeys La Vieillesse de Monsieur Lecoq (part I, chap. 6), Lecoq in 1877 professed to have invented fifteen years ago the trick of setting a prisoner free to lead the police to his confederates. This statement is erroneous for two reasons. First, Lecoq used the trick eighteen years ago. Second, Lecoq in 1859 acknowledged that Patrigent, the magistrate in the unrecorded Chaboiseau murder case, invented the ploy (Monsieur Lecoq, part I, chap. 19).
24. In Doyles A Study in Scarlet, Holmes assessed Lecoq as a miserable bungler based solely on reading Monsieur Lecoq. Holmes has generally been criticized as being uncharitable in his remarks. Actually, the judgment of Holmes was really no different from that of Tabaret. According to Tabaret. Lecoq had made a great many blunders (part I, chap. 23) and had squandered three or four opportunities to solve the case (part I, chap. 24). In his first major case, Lecoqs performance was far from rivaling Sherlock Holmes. Lecoqs actions were closer to Rex Stouts Archie Goodwin with Tabaret acting as Nero Wolfe. Lecoq behaved much better in his later cases.
25. Jenny had been the Counts mistress for six months in April 1861 (Le Crime dOrcival, chap. 12). Therefore, she became his mistress around October 1860). Since she probably couldnt be under sixteen at the time this affair began, I interpret a reference to being under twenty in July 1864 (chap. 25) to indicate that her twentieth birthday was months away.
26. Fortunats business was not totally honest. He sold worthless shares at reasonable prices to bankrupt individuals seeking to hide their assets. Fortunats clients the pretended to their creditors that their money had been lost in investments. Fortunat also bought up small debts of other bankrupts, and then forced the debtors to pay the money.
27. Gaboriau never told us whom Nina Gypsy assaulted. Maybe she got into a cat fight with Jenny Fancy.
28. In Le Crime dOrcival (chap. 5), Lecoq in disguise kept looking at the picture of a very homely well-dressed woman and pretended that she was his wife. I suspect that this portrait was actually Janouille when she was younger.
29. There are some chronological contradictions in Le Crime dOrcival. Three years separate Tremorels dumping of Jenny and the murder of his wife. The Counts age was given as twenty-six when he left Jenny (chap. 12), but cited as thirty-four when he committed the murder (chap. 3).
30. This is a theory that explains not only the reference to the Duke (a childless widower in Monsieur Lecoq) having a large family (LAffaire Lerouge, chap. 8), but also a letter of reference from an adult Marquis of Sairmeuse, the Dukes heir (Le Dossier No. 113, chap. 6).
31. Maybe Gevrols title now was Chief Inspector while Lecoq was an only an inspector.
32. Gaboriau never transferred Tabarets nickname to Lecoq, but Du Boisgobey did.
33. This is speculation on my part. Du Boisgobeys gave no clear reason while Lecoqs son was shifted from country to country. My theory is that the woman of Gentilly originally wanted to hide Louis from Lecoq, and then Lecoq wanted to hide Louis from his enemies in the criminal classes.
34. The first mention of the young Countess de Commarin was in Le Dossier No. 113 (chap. 11). The elderly Count de Commarin was a widower alive at the conclusion of LAffaire Lerouge, and his heir did marry. However, Lecoq in Le Dossier No. 13 received help from a mysterious old man count at the same party attended by the Countess de Commarin. The old mans title was Count. It could be that the elderly Count de Commarin faked his death in order for his son to come into his inheritance earlier. The Count then would have led a hermit-like existence. This deception could have been committed by the Count in order to make amends for his inexcusable behavior in 1829.
35. Tabarets death is speculation on my part. He would have been about sixty-five in 1867. Lecoq had to suddenly experience a financial windfall to retire (according to Du Boisgobey, Lecoq retired ten years before La Vieillesse de Monsieur Lecoq). The logical reason would be that someone died and left him money. The most likely person to leave Lecoq a fortune was the wealthy Tabaret. In LAffaire Lerouge, Tabaret considered making somebody else his heir, but the conclusion of the case rendered such an action impossible.
36. In Le Crime dOrcival (chap. 11), Lecoq claimed that none of his police colleagues knew his true face or hair color. This statement would imply that the detective was at least dying his hair in Monsieur Lecoq. Lecoq generally disguised himself to look older when he visited police headquarters in Gaboriaus novels. Du Boisgobey depicted Lecoq as a much older man than Gaboriau indicated, and my explanation to bridge this inconsistency is that Lecoq continued to distort his true age with disguises.
37. Near the end of Le Crime dOrcival (chap. 25), Jenny Fancy was still under twenty years old and a single year had . . . destroyed her fragile beauty beyond repair. Four years later, she was so beautiful that the Turkish ambassador bought her a necklace (La Vie Infernale, part II, chap. 13). Jenny must have had one heck of a makeover. How did this happen? Did she sell her soul like Oscar Wildes Dorian Gray? Possibly she went to Madame Sara, beautician, dentist and assassin. The beautiful Madame Sara looked the same in 1899 that she did in 1869. For more details on Madame Sara, see The Sorceress of the Strand (1903) by L. T. Meade and Robert Eustace.
38. Hermine Gordon assumed her husband was either in prison or dead. Arthur Gordon was last reported living in Baden or Homburg during the summer, and in Paris or Monaco during the winter (La Vie Infernale, part II, chap. 7).
39. A comparison of Les Esclaves de Paris, a novel set in 1867, and La Vie Infernale, a novel set in 1868 raises chronological questions. Victor Chupin in La Vie Infernale (part II, chap. 11) stated that he hadnt seen Paul and Flavia Violaine for years. Paul Violaines son, who should be less than a year old, was able to talk coherently and answer Chupins questions. I assume that Chupin actually questioned a young boy who was babysitting the baby for Flavia. Wilkie Gordons present in La Clique Doree, a novel set in 1869, prevents shifting La Vie Infernale to 1869 or 1870. Wilkies age in La Clique Doree was given as twenty-five (chap. 7), which is consistent with the references in La Vie Infernale that he was twenty-four.
40. Although the novel clearly begins in 1869 and last two years, there is a major chronological discrepancy. The novel contains no references to the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) or the Paris Commune (1871). However, the novel cannot be placed in any earlier or later years.
41. There are some inconsistencies with the age of Andre, the Duke of Champdoce.He was twenty-three in Les Esclaves de France, a novel set in 1867. La Clique Doree (chap. 13) gave Andres age as thirty in 1869. He was actually twenty-five. The Duke and the Duchess seemed to have left for Italy in 1870 after hosting a huge party in Paris. The 1870 party was mentioned in La Corde au Cou (part II, chap. 2).
42. Of all Gaboriaus works, this short story is the most difficult to place chronologically. It was published in hardcover after his death (I wish I knew the date of any earlier magazine appearance). Lecoq was briefly mentioned in the story, and it was not indicated whether he was still an active member of the police.
43. Du Boisgobey doesnt say that Louis was interred in Germany, but that explanation would explain adequately his inability to enlist in the French army.