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Friday, November 04, 2011

As a Mystery Lover

I am interested in this book:

The First DetectiveJames Morton
The First Detective: The Life and Revolutionary Times of Vidocq: Criminal, Spy, and Private Eye (2004; Overlook Press 2011) is an entertaining biography of the inspiration for both Gaboriau's Lecoq and Poe's Dupin. Eugene-François Vidocq (1775-1857) led an amazingly complicated life. His adventurous "career" began with ripping off his parents and going on the lam, although his mother repeatedly bailed him out and followed him around France. Vidocq enlisted in the French army at an early age, where he engaged in many a fencing duel before deserting. His military career was typified by repeated enlistments and desertions. Frequently imprisoned, he demonstrated his innate abilities by quickly adapting to the prison power structure, while also acting as a snitch. Vidocq was also a talented escape artist; when the authorities managed to catch him, they had a difficult time holding onto him. When Vidocq tried to go straight, he had to fend off his former associates, but also found jobs for many of them as police or private detectives. Ultimately, his fame rests on his dual role as founder of the Brigade de Sûreté (undercover police detective force) in 1811 and as creator of the first private detective agency (Bureau des Renseignements) in 1833, as well as inspiring Poe, Gaboriau, and other authors. His 1827 ghost-written autobiography and other memoirs are unreliable, but Morton has sorted through the historical records and provides a densely detailed account, with interesting asides reminding us of the wild and crazy criminality and chaos of Vidocq's time. Footnotes abound in this relatively brief and highly readable biography.  (via SYKM newsletter)

And as a Historical Mystery lover, I was saddened to learn that there will be no more in The Mistress of the Art of Death series featuring Adelia Aguilar.

Ariana Franklin's (Diana Norman)  obituary.


  1. I know! At the beginning of the year I kept checking for the new Ariana Franklin book. Then I went and hunted down someone in the 'know' and she said that Franklin was sick. I was still shocked when she died, though. There was no conclusion to her works. :( Apparently she was working on a book when she died and it is still planned to be released...

  2. I had no idea...and I was counting on the next book!

  3. I read The Private Patient" by P.D. James and liked it. Her mysteries are most always good.

    Recently I have been on a Lee Child mystery jag. Most of his I like. I haven't yet read his latest"The Affair"

    Currently I am reading "In The Garden of Beasts" by Eric Larson about Berlin as HItler is coming to power. So far I do not like it as well as one of his that is my favorite. "Devil In The White City"

  4. Chancy - P.D. James and Lee Childs are two of my favorites. Just finished The Affair and enjoyed it. I think I've read all of his books now.