Paris is the grip of fear. One name is at the root of this panic: "Fantomas." In a matter of days, a wealthy heiress is hacked to death in her room. A young guest, Charles Rambert stands accused by his own father of the crime, and commits suicide. A Russian princess is robbed in her room. An English lord, a veteran of the Boer War, goes missing. One detective, Juve, knows that Fantomas is the mastermind of so much misery. Can he unmask the criminal in time? Or is this all a figment of Juve's mind? Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain's creation "Fantomas" is the pinnacle of pulp brilliance. He's one of the great literary super-villains, a shadowy crime-lord who "spreads terror" for the absolute pleasure of it. He doesn't want to rule the world. He makes his living from crime, but clearly enjoys the notoriety his crimes bring him. In a sense, Fantomas is a break-point between the fantastic qualities 19th century pulp, and the down-to-earth crime fiction of the mid-20th century. The first novel is a rip-roaring ride of horror and intrigue, as Fantomas layers scheme upon scheme, murdering and stealing for the pleasure of it. A master of disguise, Fantomas moves through the novel as an ambiguity, appearing as various people, usually people he has murdered, forwarding his loathsome schemes. Juve, also a master of disguise, is obsessed with capturing the fiend. He also moves as a shadow, under the guise of beggars and criminals, investigating each lead that might bring Fantomas to the guillotine. While the writing in Fantomas is fairly overwrought, it is also quite lush and lurid, sweeping up the reader and leading them to compulsively read the next exciting episode, as cliffhangers abound and plot-twists litter the landscape.