When I hear Arsène Lupin I always think about the French tv-series that was shown in the 1970s. Loved the series. I have seen a couple of episodes on the new one. It is also good, but a little bit too modern, considering the original books.
This first book (I think) is a series of short stories about different crimes that AL is performing. Told by a friend of his. It is extra ordinary, it is difficult to try to find out how they are committed, they are funny and charming. Easily read stories.
The Queen's Necklace
I will shortly talk about one story, since it relates to another post I wrote on Axel von Fersen and Queen Marie Antoinette by Margareta Beckman. A very interesting biography on their love story. The story of the necklace was one of the igniting sparks of the French revolution. And here it turns up in a story about Arsène Lupin.
It is the story of the legendary necklace that Böhmer and Bassenge, court juwelers, had initially made for madame du Barry. It held 647 diamonds, weighed 2 800 carat and cost 1 800 000 litres (just above a billion euro in today's money). The Queen refused to buy it, but other people were out to grab it. It is quite a conspiracy and too long to tell here. In the end, the thief's behind the conspiracy, had the necklace disassembled and sold the stones in Paris and London. They lived well on the money until they were caught.
Here is Maurice Leblanc's take on the story.
After the theft, the only real part of the necklace was the setting, the stones had been changed. The Dreux-Soubise family owned the neckless for almost a century, and although their fortune shrank they never tried to sell the necklace. It was kept in the safe of a bank, and the wife only wore it once a year during a special ball. Everyone admired the necklace which was very important for the family. Once home from the ball, the necklace was kept in a box, and put in an alcove, isolated from the bedroom. The only entrance was opposite the bed.
When Monsieur the next morning went to collect the necklace to put it back into the bank safe, it was gone. Nobody had entered through the door. In the alcove was a small window which was closed, and half of it had a board nailed to it. The classical secret of the closed room where somebody nevertheless has been able to steal the necklace. If you want to find out how it happened you have to read the book.
This is one of stories the make up this book. There might be other real life stories incorporated in it, that I am not aware of. While reading I was thinking the Arsène Lupin is a little bit like Sherlock Holmes in his planning and analysing of crime. Although they are on the opposite side. I had to laugh when I came to the last story which has the title: "Herlock Sholmès comes too late."