Émile Gaboriau is an important figure in the history of detective fiction. A French journalist and novelist, he created the "roman policier" with a series of books involving private detective Monsieur Lecoq, who works logically. Lecoq was based on a real-life thief turned policeman named Francois Vidocq (1775-1857), whose memoirs mixed fiction and fact. Gaboriau's huge following was eclipsed by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. Interestingly, Holmes may have been at least partly based on another of Gaboriau's characters, consulting detective Father Tabaret, whose methods Monsieur Lecoq adopts in the first Lecoq book.
The cold on the 8th of February, 186-, was more intense than the Parisians had experienced during the whole of the severe winter which had preceded it, for at twelve o'clock on that day Chevalier's thermometer, so well known by the denizens of Paris, registered three degrees below zero. The sky was overcast and full of threatening signs of snow, while the moisture on the pavement and roads had frozen hard, rendering traffic of all kinds exceedingly hazardous. The whole great city wore an air of dreariness and desolation, for even when a thin crust of ice covers the waters of the Seine, the mind involuntarily turns to those who have neither food, shelter, nor fuel.
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