The Triumphs of Eugène Valmont (Robert Barr)

  • By Robert Barr
  • First published: 1906

The title is something of a misnomer for, despite his Poirotian conceit, intellectual vanity and condescending attitude towards the English he does not understand, Valmont’s “triumphs” are really a series of failures. In the first case, he arrests an English private detective, fails to recover the jewels, is bamboozled by the man who bought them, makes France a laughing-stock, and is dismissed from the force. In the best story in the collection, “The Absent-minded Coterie”, he discovers the criminals’ ingenious fraud – but is thwarted by them and ends up paying five shillings a week indefinitely. In another case, he frees the wrong man from an American prison and helps to commit a murder (at best, manslaughter); and in the last story he is fooled by a couple of young lovers. These are all witty and amusing parodies of the detective story, complete with the great number of titled and illustrious personages common in the period, villainous anarchists and ingenious frauds.