Sunday, May 06, 2007

Fantomas



Inspired by the band Fantômas I've started reading the French horror novel of the same name.

The band Fantômas is an alt-metal outfit/ supergroup from the Bay Area. They're really fun and interesting. I got their CD "Directors' Cut" on a recent trip down there. Directors Cut is made up of themes from Horror and Suspense movies reworked in an often ironic metal style that runs from combining elements of metal and Hardcore to Funk-Metal. It's something worth checking out....

The book Fantômas, man, it blows contemporary English detective writing out of the water. It is, in fact a combination horror-detective novel. The story is about Fantômas, a serial killer who is able to pull of literally impossible crimes and leave no trace, where the motives aren't clear at all. He's pursued by a detective, Juve, who has dedicated himself to tracking him down and destroying him. This isn't Sherlock Holmes.

For one, it's much more realistic. I always thought that the Holmes stories were somewhat choppy in their portrayal of events; plus, with Sherlock Holmes it always seemed that despite the vaunted deductive knowledge of Holmes that the crimes really weren't impossible to figure out. Holmes has this kind of smug satisfaction in his skills but partially that's the problem: Holmes lives in a regular, rational, universe ultimately. With Fantômas it's another story.

Fantômas isn't supernatural but the crimes he commits can't have happened. They aren't just obscure but tough to the point that it appears that something other than human is behind them. Fantômas has no motives, can get around the country unseen and unknown, can commit horrible crimes without detection, has seemingly infinite resources. People aren't even sure if it's just one individual or a gang or a gang controlled by and individual. In other words, it's a nightmare.

And it's in print! Here is a link to it at Powells.

The only thing, and it's really minor, really quibling, is that the Penguin Classics edition altered the famous Fantômas poster on the cover of the book.

I guess there were several versions of the Fantômas poster, but the original had Fantômas carrying a blood stained dagger in his right hand whereas the Penguin Classics edition has the character in the same pose but minus the dagger, while the cover of the Penguin edition looks much more like the poster at the top of this post.

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