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.
There is not, perhaps, in all Paris, a quieter street than the Rue St. Gilles in the Marais, within a step of the Place Royale. No carriages there; never a crowd. Hardly is the silence broken by the regulation drums of the Minims Barracks near by, by the chimes of the Church of St. Louis, or by the joyous clamors of the pupils of the Massin School during the hours of recreation.
At night, long before ten o'clock, and when the Boulevard Beaumarchais is still full of life, activity, and noise, every thing begins to close. One by one the lights go out, and the great windows with diminutive panes become dark. And if, after midnight, some belated citizen passes on his way home, he quickens his step, feeling lonely and uneasy, and apprehensive of the reproaches of his concierge, who is likely to ask him whence he may be coming at so late an hour.
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