Alma Classics have produced an appealing package for young readers. David Carter’s skilful translation of Maurice Leblanc’s detective stories keeps the narrative moving at a lively and gripping pace. There are two stories within the book, both featuring the gentleman thief Arsene Lupin and Herlock Sholmes, the audaciously `borrowed’ character from the work of Conan Doyle. To assist in the comprehension of these stories, Alma have included a glossary of potentially problematical words and idioms, a mini-digest of characters, a short quiz and an informative piece on the rise of the detective novel. Thus the book becomes both educational tool and literary entertainment.
The stories are linked by their use of characters but also by the labyrinthe construction of the plots. Just when a dead-end seems to have been reached a new twist leads the reader on another path: just when the problems encountered seem insoluble, a solution is found. The battle of wits and wills between the two combatants is the heart of the volume and it is their differences which make their intellectual duals the more entertaining.
These are stories with a clearly explained literary heritage, a wealth of action: a jewellery robbery; the removal of an apparently worthless Jewish lamp containing a precious artefact in a hidden compartment – and two engaging and mercurial protagonists – and theyoffer an attractive and eminently readable introduction to the genre and to work both from another country and another century.