Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Fantômas (Fantômas, #1)” as Want to Read:
Fantômas (Fantômas, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Fantômas (Fantômas #1)

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  1,065 ratings  ·  97 reviews
"One episode simply melts away as the next takes over" (The New York Times) in this deliciously sinister turn-of-the-century tale of a French evil genius run rampant. Three appalling crimes leave all of Paris aghast: the Marquise de Langruen is hacked to death, the Princess Sonia is robbed, and Lord Beltham is found dead, stuffed into a trunk. Inspector Juve knows that all ...more
Paperback, 300 pages
Published December 26th 2006 by Penguin Classics (first published January 1st 1911)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Fantômas, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Fantômas

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Metamorphosis by Franz KafkaPeter Pan by J.M. BarrieHowards End by E.M. ForsterMy Ántonia by Willa Cather
Best Books of the Decade: 1910's
73rd out of 239 books — 388 voters
Les Misérables by Victor HugoA Moveable Feast by Ernest HemingwayA Tale of Two Cities by Charles DickensMy Life in France by Julia ChildThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Books About Paris
143rd out of 457 books — 442 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
sweet jane
Έχει περάσει παραπάνω από ένας αιώνας από όταν οι πένες του Pierre Souvestre και του Marcel Allan ενώθηκαν για να δημιουργήσουν μια από τις πιο εμβληματικές λογοτεχνικές προσωπικότητες, τον Φαντομά. Το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο είναι το πρώτο από μια σειρά 32 τον αριθμό, αλλά δυστυχώς το μοναδικό που έχει μεταφραστεί στα Ελληνικά.

Σατανικός ως το μεδούλι, χωρίς ηθικές αναστολές και προικισμένος με το χάρισμα της μεταμόρφωσης, ο Φαντομάς είναι η ενσάρκωση του απόλυτου κακού. Κλέβει, σκοτώνει και δολοπλο
Noran Miss Pumkin
I am torn about my rating of the book. Time does not pass evenly, and not still clear about the motives for the murders. Some just robbed, others killed. The trial came and went, without the wife being called. It is a different crime novel for sure. The criminal is quite brilliant, which earns the fourth star. Him vs Sherlock wound a fascinating read!
Here's the problem with this book: I never really got any idea why Fantomas was doing all this shit. I mean, he gets up into these elaborate disguises so he can kill one person or another, but why does he want that person dead? Not really explained. And he also makes some pretty stupid mistakes for being such a genius mastermind. Shit Moriarty would never have put up with.

I'm just saying, if you're writing a book about a criminal genius, the criminal should do genius things. Not just really conv
The famous illustration on the cover of this Penguin edition has been altered. What the arch-criminal Fantômas is grasping in his right hand is a bloody dagger which he is holding by the hilt, for which see the the original.

The eponymous character of Fantomas by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre is perhaps the greatest of the arch-villains in literature. His ruthlessness is greater than Professor Moriarty's, and his slipperiness ever so much more pronounced. Fantômas does not at any point come
Sep 23, 2008 Scott rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Scott by: 1001 Books You Must Read before You Die
Shelves: crime, 1910s
Fantômas (Fr. original 1911; Eng. trans. 1915) – a comic strip without the pictures – is fiction so pulpy that not only can you see the chunks of wood, you can count the rings, and when you turn the page you have to be careful not to get a sliver in your finger. And just who is Fantômas? "Fantômas is a being against whom it is idle to use ordinary weapons; because he has been able to conceal his identity and elude all pursuit for years; because his daring is boundless and his power immeasurable; ...more
Douglas Penick
Fantomas is a very weird book. It's one of the Prof. Moriarity, Dr. Mabuse, etc. fantasies of a single master criminal at the heart of pre-WWI darkness. The master criminal, in this case, is brilliantly clever in the execution of his crimes but singularly devoid of motive. His pursuer, Detective Inspector Juve, is brilliantly deductive but amazingly indifferent to real facts. These two adopt many disguises enabling them to pass through all levels of society. Other characters also exist in persis ...more
What a remarkable book. "Fantaomas" made me understand what type of world we live in. The sexual, the terrorist, and the chaos - it's way too beautiful.

Also I wrote a much longer essay on 'Fantomas' on my blog. Read it at

And I have to add that I have a serious collection of Fantomas books in English. One book smell of piss - which is perfect of course!
Fantômas was enjoyable enough, though a little too gruesome for me in a few parts. Since this is one of those books written in the early 1900s, it is easy to think it will be milder/nicer than current novels when, in fact, that is not necessarily the case. (I always think stuff like that until I remember humans have been bloodthirsty throughout history, such as past times when people would attend public executions as a fun family outing.) This was the first of what was apparently a wildly popula ...more
I don't know where this book has been all my life, but I loved it. Now very eager to read all the others--and happily enough there are 43 to the series to keep me occupied. I can see why it is the ultimate classic pulp novel and a major influence on the surrealists.

The more I read, the more I was stunned that this book was written almost a hundred years ago, since it has such a modern timeless feel to it. Sure, parts of it are a little dated--some of the dialogue, reliance on trains, etc, but t
The arch-criminal Fantômas made his first appearance in print in 1911. Fantômas, written by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre, was followed by no less than 42 sequels.

There had been very successful literary criminal heroes before this, most notably Maurice Leblanc’s Arsène Lupin in France and E. W. Hornung’s Raffles in Britain. They were gentlemen thieves, and always remained gentlemen. They avoided unnecessary violence and they had their own sense of fair play. Fantômas belonged to a very diff
Another case of a book I would probably not have picked up if it had not been on the 1001 list. It is quite unusual for the villain is the title of the book, and although Fantomas is hinted at and talked about for the first half of the book, you don't find out who he is or if he is real until the second half. He is in fact a clever man and always manages to stay on step ahead of the detective (Jurve), although I could see the end coming. My only negative comment (and its not really a bad one) wo ...more
You have got to love the French! One of their most popular literary characters is a complete psycho.
He kills in cold blood, manipulates everyone around him, sleeps with another man's wife then kills the man when he objects and spreads terror where ever he goes.
Yet, Fantomas is fascinating and you find yourself worrying when he's cornered or in danger. His relationship with his mistress has a bit more depth than the usual victorian/turn of the century romance.

Another nice thing is the detective
Chuddchutney Buana
Am I really only the fourth person in the Goodreads universe to have rated this twisty, classic-literature-yet-feels-like-an-airport-read book?

Full of tension, comedy, and unpredictable turn (though at times it stepped into a ridiculous zone, but I don't mind, as long as it keeps me enthralled), with page-turner quality of a New York Times best-seller. A surprising treat indeed. More people should read this.
Kit Fox
I bought this mostly because of the cover. And how can you say no to classic pulp fiction? You just can't. But, like, the titular Fantômas barely showed up at all. Sure, people talked about him/it a lot, but that's it—and where I come from, shizz like that's wiggity whack.
Still, one of the greatest!

[image error]

Take the influence of Sherlock Holmes and other serial characters pre-1911...

Decide to make the main character an unknowable arch-villain, the "Genius of Crime", malevolent and unstoppable, ravaging the world with his outrageous acts... (ocean liners will be dynamited purely to kill one man! severed hands will be left on a roulette wheel! innocents murdered! millions stolen!). Give him a vast criminal gang to rival Fu Manchu's Si-Fan...

Make him such a mast
Many thanks to the 1001 book list because I would have never read this book had it not been on the list and missed out on a gem.

Fantomas is a master criminal, ruthless and brilliantly clever,able to take on any disguise seemingly at will, a real fictional anti-hero long before they became popular. Juve is a quirky but brilliant detective who has made it his life's work to catch this criminal, seeing links in seemingly unconnected crimes where no one else can spot them. But even at the very end o
David Stephens
"What did you say?"
"I said: Fantộmas."
"And what does that mean?"
"Nothing. . . . Everything!"
"But what is it?"
"Nobody. . . . And yet, yes, it is somebody!"
"And what does the somebody do?"
"Spreads terror!"

And, thus, the story of Fantộmas begins, expressing quite well the cheesy and over the top tone of the entire novel. First released in 1911 and popular enough to merit thirty-one sequels, Fantộmas follows the vicious murders and cunning robberies of the eponymous arch villain. What enj
Nate D
Dec 20, 2010 Nate D rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: masked killers of great refinement
Recommended to Nate D by: surrealism's populist leanings
Turn-of-the-century french pulp stories about a mysterious killer praying upon the aristocracy, loved by the surrealists? I ought to be wild about this. And after a rather slow first half, I'm warming to it. The characters are still rather flat, and the prose perfunctory (perhaps inevitably for a series that produced some 20 volumes in three years -- seriously), but really you read this sort of thing for the plot and the plot is actually a lot of fun. What at first seemed a bunch of jumbled, irr ...more
Very, very pulpy, and a bit sensational. Not quite as sensationalistic as, say, The Phantom of the Opera, but it's in that general vein. Understandably since it's the same genre from the same country in the same era.

But this is more focused on the crime and crime solving aspects with a Sherlock Holmes-ish detective and a Moriarty-ish villain. It even has some quotes reminiscent of the great Holmes.

... [H]uman intelligence should hesitate before no improbability, however improbable, provided tha
James Hardison
Fantômas was the first novel in a series written by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre published in serial form in 1911. (31 books together and Allain wrote 11 more after Souvestre's death.) Episodic and a little lacking in character developement, it's still wonderful French pulp fiction. This first book "Fantomas" catapulted the criminal genius to instant popularity, as well as all but creating the modern criminal novel. Fantômas is everywhere. He is a master killer, a criminal genius, capable ...more
the gift
this is why i find what books to read from various sources: no one would call this great literature, i know of it only vaguely because i remember hearing that the surrealists, dadaists, liked it, a friend gave me some dvds of the silents serials from 1915 and i decided to read this first, i decided as with any historical documents to read it first without the prep of introduction... i am so happily amazed that this pulp, these fantastic characters, this melodrama, is so engaging over a hundred y ...more
Elijah Spector
Marked this is "Read" but I did not finish it. The introduction outlines, more than once, that the authors of Fantômas were hacks, but I've enjoyed a lot of pulpy stuff by hacks who had a few good ideas, so I thought I could get down with this. Unfortunately, hacky writing is at its best when it's fast-paced, but this was extremely slow and after a day I was very much not looking forward to reading it. Ah well, the rare time when the movie is better than the book, and so are all the stories it i ...more
Simon Brilsby
Can be read on my blog: Brilsby's Whims

[This review contains slight spoilers, both explicitly and by implication.]

"‘You are mad, boy, absolutely mad! Vidocq – Rocambole! You mix up legend and history, lump together murderers with detectives, and make no distinction between right and wrong! You would not hesitate to put the heroes of crime and the heroes of law and order on one and the same pedestal!’

‘You have said the word, sir,’ Charles Rambert exclaimed; ‘they are all heroes. But, better still
After watching the classic Feuillade serial I decided to read this one, and I'm glad I did. This book is a lot of fun, with Fantomas as a shockingly cruel villain and poor Juve always a step behind him. The book ended the way I expected the first part of the serial to end, but apparently Feuillade either didn't want to or wasn't allowed to bring that part to its horrific close. The book bounces from character to character almost at random, until you see everyone tied together by the crimes of Fa ...more
What began as an expected, plain, elementary Whodunit becomes quite convoluted at the end. Train-hopping, fake identities (including transvestites), bluffs, double bluffs, Bentillon dynamometers (rudimentary CSI), slit throats and gruesome violence, insane Victorians, specters, the beginnings of witness protection, schedules and timeframes--this is in that same category of classics like Wilkie Collin's very cool "The Woman in White."

The hero/villain dynamics and the inherent sensationalism that
This was a pulp hit in Paris at the time of publication, and led to a series of 30-40 subsequent books. It was popular among the Surrealists and other hip types of the day, but it comes across as a pretty ordinary sub-par mystery, though with an exceptionally amoral villain. It's reminiscent of Law & Order in the way the plot jumps wildly between tangentially related events that sort of tie together at the end.
Melodramatic B-movie thriller of a novel. Fantomas, near-legendary criminal mastermind who makes even virtuous widows turn to putty in his hands and for whom even his arch nemesis Detective Juve declares, "Nothing is impossible". The setting is cosmopolitan Paris before the First World War - a real melting pot of glamour, sophistication and the remnants of a severely stratified society. This is top rank pulp fiction, a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Dick Barton with a sense of gruesome theatr ...more
Air Knight
Fantômas definitely deserves its status, pretty much a century has passed, yet still feels like a different type of crime novel.

The best features of the book are both the absurdly resourceful way to develop the events (sometimes pushing logic too hard, to be fair) and the shameless pride for the chosen narrative style, with lots of twists and turns that most of the time work as intended and create more interest in the story. The writing itself is a bit bland, and a few parts are borderline nons
Chilly SavageMelon
The film version is far more exciting. I wanted more from Fantomas' perspective, and here there is very little. Maybe there is more in future volumes. I'm not sure if it's the period, or the hack writing. But it is the original of what became a great and enduring concept. I'm not sorry I read it, but can't recommend it as stellar.
Jan 06, 2009 Troy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 1913
Holy crap this is a lot of fun! We follow the ramifications of the exploits of Fantomas, as mysterious killer who prays on the rich. Hot on his trail is the brilliant Juve who like Fantomas is a master of disguise.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Under Fire
  • The Madman of Bergerac
  • Bouvard and Pecuchet
  • Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Thief (Arsène Lupin)
  • The House of Doctor Dee
  • Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman (A.J. Raffles, The Gentleman Thief #1)
  • The Four Just Men  (The Four Just Men #1)
  • Dirty Tricks
  • Cause for Alarm
  • The Life and Death of Harriett Frean
  • The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle
  • Poetic Justice (A Kate Fansler Mystery #3)
  • L'Abbé C
  • Claudine's House
  • Blind Man with a Pistol (Harlem Cycle, #8)
  • The Vice Consul (Pantheon Modern Writers Original)
  • Bunner Sisters
  • Clarissa Harlowe; or the history of a young lady - Volume 1 (of 9)
Marcel Allain (1885-1970) was a French writer mostly remembered today for his co-creation with Pierre Souvestre of the fictional arch-villain and master criminal Fantômas.
The son of a Parisian bourgeois family, Allain studied law before becoming a journalist. He then became the assistant of Souvestre, who was already a well-known figure in literary circles. In 1909, the two men published their fir
More about Marcel Allain...

Other Books in the Series

Fantômas (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • The Silent Executioner
  • Fantômas: The Corpse Who Kills
  • A Nest Of Spies: Being The Fourth In The Series Of Fantomas Detective Tales
  • A Royal Prisoner: Being the Fifth in the Series of Fantômas Detective Tales
  • The Long Arm of Fantômas
  • Le pendu de Londres
  • The Daughter of Fantômas
  • Le Fiacre de nuit
  • Fantômas: Mord in Monte Carlo (Fantômas, #10)
  • L'arrestation de Fantômas

Share This Book

“What can I be thinking of? Just imagine my not having presented myself to you even yet! But as a matter of fact I do not want to tell you my name
out loud; it is a romantic one, utterly inappropriate to the typically modern environment in which we now stand. Ah,
if we were only on the steep side of some mountain with the moon like a great lamp above us, or by the shore of
some wild ocean, there would be some glamour in proclaiming my identity in the silence of the night, or in the midst of lightning and thunder as a hurricane swept the seas! But here in a third-floor suite of the Royal Palace
Hotel, surrounded by telephones and electric lights, and standing by a window overlooking the Champs Elysees-> it would be positively anachronistic!" He took a card out of his pocket and drew near the little writing desk. "Allow me, Princess, to slip my card into this drawer, left open on purpose, it would seem," and while the princess uttered a little cry she could not repress, he did just that. "And now, Princess," he went on, compelling her to retreat before him as he moved to the door of the anteroom opening on to the corridor, "you are too well bred, I am sure, not to wish to conduct your visitor to the door of your suite." His tone altered abruptly, and in a deep imperious voice that made the princess quake he ordered her: "And now, not a word, not a cry, not a movement until I am outside, or I will kill you!”
“As she slowly came to, the princess, fascinated, gazed at the card, and this time her haggard eyes grew wide with astonishment. For upon the card, which until now had appeared immaculately white, letters were gradually becoming visible, and the princess read:

More quotes…