March the 8th sees the 124th anniversary of the death of Paul Feval.
Born in Brittany on 29 September 1816 Paul Henri Corentin Féval can be considered as the writer of the first murder mystery novel. Although most famous for his swashbucklers such as Le Loup Blanc (1843) and Le Bossu (1857), it is his novel Jean Diable (1862) that can claim to be the world’s first modern detective novel.
In it, Scotland Yard Chief Superintendent Gregory Temple is mystified by the actions of a supremely gifted crime leader who hides behind the identity of John Devil.
His masterpiece was Les Habits Noirs (1863-75), a criminal saga written over a twelve-year period comprised of seven novels. It is the precursor of modern day organised crime novels. After losing his fortune in a financial scandal (several million pounds in todays money), Féval became a born again Christian, stopped writing crime thriller, and began to write religious novels.
He died on 8th March 1887