Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre composed the 32-novel saga of Fantômas in the three years between 1911 and 1913. Over the course of the series, France's elusive master criminal commits a litany of heinous deeds that unfold at a baffling breakneck pace. The books are early examples of the crime procedural genre, putting significant narrative weight on forensic science, police methodology, and courtroom drama. Far from today's pro-authority narratives, however, the Fantômas novels incorporated Grand Guignol violence, mistaken identity, and social upheaval, making the titular character a favorite of the Surrealists. Jack and Kate tackle the first book in the series and get a taste of decadent, vintage criminality.
How hard is it for a Frenchman to pronounce "South Steamship Company" and can one of our listeners demonstrate this? When is a character a misunderstood genius and when is he just demonstrating a profound misunderstanding of detective work? What the hell is going on with the American Gladiator-style competition between those porters? How long will it take for this episode to descend into filthy-nasty Fantômas fanfic? All these questions and more will be answered in this month's episode of Bad Books for Bad People.