he Hollow Needle; Further Adventures of Arsene Lupin: how could I miss? Spotted this while pulling the original book from Project Gutenberg (which I rather enjoyed). And I’ve heard this is one of his most famous episodes.
So here, again, we have a crime that takes place – several men invade the palatial home of the Comte de Gesvres. While his daughter Suzanne seems rather useless, her cousin Raymonde, a more practical girl, spots one of the fleeing thieves from the balcony, picks up a rifle from a trophy case (it appears it is kept loaded, bad gun safety there), raises it to her shoulder and nails him from long range. The wounded man (later to be suspected as Arsene Lupin himself) crawls into the ruined cloisters on the property. The police search and search and cannot find him. A mystery hangs over these strange events.
Enter Isidore Beautrelet, a young student who happened to be in the neighborhood and joins the case (posing as a journalist) on a lark. The police are astounded by his observations and (in the spirit of Castle and Lucifer) allow him to assist him as a civilian. And so the chase is on, with Isidore doing his best to unravel Lupin’s tangled affairs and the gentleman thief staying ten steps ahead of him. The adventure culminates in a clever location (the Needle of the title, and I’m not saying what that is) with Lupin ever as dashing and clever as he can be.
Now, that might be true in the end of the novel, but at the midpoint, Lupin turned out to be a bit of a dickhead for most of it. He mocked Beautrelet, not as an accomplished student wise beyond his years, but as a baby. He threatened the young man, kidnapped his father, and all through it snarls, curses and threatens. He only comes out as sympathetic in the end of the story. I found myself thinking, “Come on, Lupin. You’re billed as a gentleman. Act like it”. Oh well. Possibly at the time, such behavior was seen as gentlemanly. Who knows?
Anyway, a fine book which you can locate yourself without too much trouble in Project Gutenberg. Have a look. The mystery is fun, the adventure exciting, and the action crazy.