Friday, March 28, 2014
The Golden Triangle by Maurice Leblanc
What do you get when you take seven crippled men and a beautiful nurse, and mix them up with a broken rosary bead, a rusty key, and a rash of secret identities? The Golden Triangle is a rollicking good story! This was my third venture into Maurice Leblanc's mystery stories about gentleman thief Arsene Lupin and it was quite a ride. It takes place during World War I and wounded warrior Patrice Belval is in love with his nurse. There are multiple obstacles to their union, each more surprising than the first.
What really endeared Patrice to me was the Jane-Eyre-like speech he makes to Coralie. Just as Jane declared her equality to Rochester in spite of her looks and poverty, he gives a touching speech declaring his elegibility as a husband in spite of his war injuries: Because the war has deprived me of a leg, or an arm, or even both legs or both arms, does that mean I no longer have the right to love a woman save at the risk of meeting with rebuff or imagining that she pities me? We don't want women to pity us, nor to make an effort to love us...What we demand is equality. We all of us claim to be just as good, physically and morally, as any one you please; and perhaps better. What! Shall men who have used their legs to rush to the enemy be outdistanced in life, because they no longer have those legs, by men who have sat and warmed their toes at an office fire? What nonsense! There is no happiness to which we are not entitled and no work for which we are not capable with a little exercise and training. (from Chapter 2)
I can't tell any more without spoilers so I'll just leave it at that. The brilliant Arsène Lupin solves all the mysteries and irons out all difficulties.
Although I enjoyed the book, I was uncomfortable with the way the villain was finished off. And there was one aspect of the mystery that I found to be unbelievable. (Most of my early doubts were brushed away by Lupin's explanations.) Other than that this was a great way to spend two successive rainy afternoons.
According to Wikipedia a surprising number of films have been made based on this character. Be forewarned that Patrice has a close friend who is African and is referred to in stereotypical language of that time.
There are at least ten free Arsène Lupin titles on Kindle. Eleven are available as free audiobooks at Librivox.