Sunday, February 8, 2015

Crossover of the Week

            Arsène Lupin, disguised as Prince Sernine, tells his biographer Maurice Leblanc a tale involving the Comte de Guy’s ownership of d’Artagnan’s sword, having heard rumors of how the Comte acquired it: “There’s been talk of dealings with the Chinese fence, Hanoi Shan—his path has crossed Lupin’s before—rumors of a murderous thug named Gurn…half-whispered rumors of Cagliostro, Saint-Germain, and the Englishman Barrington, who had defrauded the great Cagliostro of a fortune and the sword; talk that the sword had once been the trust of one Prince Rodolphe; that it was stolen by Colonel Bozzo-Corona or by that young rogue Rocambole; that British cracksman took a shot at it; and there was a suggestion the Devil Doctor in Limehouse had shown an interest; Josephine Balsamo’s name came up…” The sword was brought to Lupin’s attention by the young journalist Rouletabille. The Comte asks Lupin, in his guise as M. Lenormand, head of the Sûreté Nationale, to guard his valuables at a masked ball. Lupin says, “Even old Lecoq might have found himself challenged by this problem!,” and assures the Comte, “The cracksman Bunn is in Perth, by all accounts, and that Englishman Raffles who has plagued Scotland Yard has not been heard of since the Boer War.” The Comte introduces “Lenormand” to his daughter, the Comtesse Emmeline de Guy. Lupin encounters a young boy who calls himself “Stephen Tarleton” and wishes to steal the sword from the Comte. The Comte stores his valuables in a safe made by the Dale company in New York, which the American called the Gray Seal had remarkable luck in cracking. Marie Antoinette’s necklace was stolen by Cagliostro, then in England by George Barrington, the Picaroon, king of the London underworld, and from the Dreux-Soubize family by Lupin himself, as a boy. Lupin recognizes members of Paris’ infamous Vampires and the Union Corse from Marseilles at the ball, as well as deadly enemies of the English cracksman, Cleek.
            Short story by David L. Vineyard in Tales of the Shadowmen Volume 11: Force Majeure, Jean-Marc and Randy Lofficier, eds., Black Coat Press, 2014. Arsène Lupin, the Dreux-Soubize family, and Josephine Balsamo are from Maurice Leblanc’s novels. The Comte de Guy is one of the many aliases used by Carl Peterson, the archenemy of H.C. “Sapper” McNeile’s adventurer Bulldog Drummond. The Countesse Emmeline is really Carl’s mistress Irma. Hanoi Shan is from H. Ashton-Wolfe’s Warped in the Making: Crimes of Love and Hate. Hanoi Shan encountered Lupin in Vineyard’s story “The Jade Buddha” (Tales of the Shadowmen Volume 5: The Vampires of Paris, Jean-Marc and Randy Lofficier, eds., Black Coat Press, 2009.) Gurn is better known as Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre’s villain Fantômas. Count Cagliostro was a historical figure, who also appeared in novels by Alexandre Dumas, and was identified as the founder of a villainous branch of the Wold Newton Family by Philip José Farmer. The Comte de Saint-Germain was also a real person, and has appeared in a number of works of fiction. George Barrington is from Ernest Dudley’s novel Picaroon. Prince Rodolphe is from Eugène Sue’s The Mysteries of Paris. Colonel Bozzo-Corona is the leader of the gang known as the Black Coats in novels by Paul Féval. Rocambole is the villain-turned-hero of novels by Ponson du Terrail. The British cracksman is E.W. Hornung’s A.J. Raffles. The Devil Doctor is Sax Rohmer’s Doctor Fu Manchu, whom Farmer conflated with Hanoi Shan in Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life. Apparently, it is not common knowledge that Fu and Shan are the same person, and doubtless that is how the criminal mastermind prefers it. Rouletabille is a young reporter featured in novels by Gaston Leroux. Lecoq is Emile Gaboriau’s detective. Smiler Bunn is a thief appearing in comedic stories by Bertram Atkey. “Stephen Tarleton” is really Simon Templar, who will later be known as the Saint, the “laughing Robin Hood of crime” created by Leslie Charteris. Lupin thinks that Templar is fourteen years old. In fact, Templar would be ten years old in 1911. The Dale company is owned by Jimmie Dale, aka the Gray Seal, who appears in books by Frank L. Packard. The Vampires are from Louis Feuillade’s silent film serial Les Vampires. The Union Corse is a real organization, but a fictionalized version of the group appears in Ian Fleming’s James Bond novel On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Hamilton Cleek, “the man of forty faces,” was the protagonist of books by Thomas W. Hanshew.


  1. There does not seem to be much of the way of information on Smiler Bunn or Bertram Atkey.

    Are any of the Union Corse members named like say a ancestor of Draco?

    The Union Corse does not appear as often as the Mafia (American or Sicilian) does in fiction. Aside from the Bond books: there was a Mack Bolan book dealing with them, the film The French Connection of course, and in the anime Noir one of the main characters the last surviving member of a Union Corse family.

  2. Atkey was Barry Perowne's uncle. In fact, Perowne mentioned Smiler Bunn in one of his Raffles stories.

    None of the Union Corse members are referred to by name.

  3. That Atkey was Perowne's uncle was the only thing I could find out on the internet. (Though I did not spend to much time looking.) I would have liked a review or an essay on the books so I could find out about it. Anyway I'll keep an eye out on his books.

    I asked about the Union Corse members because I remember an ancestor of Draco was in one of the Tales of the Shadowmen stories. I was wondering. Now, that I think about it the Union Corse is mentioned in Forsythe's Day of the Jackal and Dogs of War. (One of the mercenaries is a member.)