Anyone watching the Netflix series Lupin, featuring French comedian Omar Sy as a charming criminal and master of disguise, will be wondering whether the book that his father gives him and that inspires him throughout, Arsène Lupin: Gentleman-Thief by Maurice Leblanc, actually exists and, if so, whether it’s worth reading. The answer is yes and yes. While the setting and characters in the Netflix series have little connection with the original book, which was published before World War I, the stories are a lot of fun, and short.
The first Arsène Lupin story, “The Arrest of Arsène Lupin” appeared in 1905 in a French magazine and was followed by countless others. One story has already featured on Five Books, in an interview on the best art crime books. The stories have a feel of Sherlock Holmes, though Arsène Lupin is a very affable character, unlike his British counterpart.
The books are out of copyright, so it’s definitely worth reading them for free as ebooks. We’ve linked a version that is currently free, but if that doesn’t work, you can also get them free via Project Gutenberg. The first book of eight stories includes “The Queen’s Necklace”, the story that the Netflix series opens with (loosely speaking).
One additional reason to possibly get the Arsène Lupin book: the French version (also available for free as an ebook) is not too difficult, and easy to read with the dictionary feature that Kindles have, if you don’t recognise a word.