Fantomas

The Fantômas Novels: Juve contre Fantômas


JuveSynopsis of Juve contre Fantômas (Juve versus Fantômas):

Josephine, the mistress of gang leader Loupart, alerts the police that the next night he will be robbing the house of Dr. Chaleck. Juve and Fandor lie in wait, but see only the doctor working at his desk in the study for the entire night. But minutes after they leave, they learn that the police have received a call from the house. They return and discover the room they'd hidden in ransacked, Dr. Chaleck's safe rifled, and a woman, apparently crushed to death, sprawled on the floor.

That same night Josephine has gone to the hospital with a fever. Loupart writes her to leave immediately, or she will be shot during visiting hours the next day. And though the hospital is surrounded by police, Josephine is wounded as she lies in the ward. Juve finds the weapon, and notices that the barrel is bloodstainedóthe criminal wounded himself in the finger when he shot Josephine. He demands that everyone in the building show him their hands, but Dr. Chaleck escapes him by going into the morgue and pretending to be a corpse. Later, when Chaleck is signing out, he leaves a bloodstain on the register. Juve and Fandor return to Chaleck's to arrest him. As they search the house, they are puzzled to find that there seem to be two identical studies. Suddenly the door is locked behind them, the room sinks and begins filling with sand as the ceiling moves lower and lower. Just before they are crushed to death the floor collapses from the weight of the sand, and they escape through the sewer beneath the house.

Fandor spots Josephine in the street and follows her to the Gare de Lyon, where she boards the Marseille train with a winedealer who believes she's coming on a tryst with him. But Josephine and members of Loupart's gang rob the dealer of 150,000 francs and jump off after uncoupling their car from the rest of the train. The car begins to roll backwards down the track, and Fandor and the dealer leap off moments before it plows into the oncoming Simplon express train, killing and maiming hundreds of innocent passengers.

Loupart sends a telegram to Juve over Fandor's name setting a rendevous at the wine warehouse the next night. Juve goes there, encounters Fandor, and both are ambushed by Loupart's gang, which sets fire to the barrels. Juve and Fandor, surrounded by the inferno and facing sure death, escape by jumping into an empty wine barrel and rolling it into the Seine. (See Starace's interpretation of this scene above.)

Juve discovers a small roll of paper sewn into the clothes of the murdered woman from Chaleck's house which identifies her as Lady Beltham, the lover of Fantômas (in Fantômas). Juve and Fandor, with Josephine's aid, nab Chaleck at a restaurant, but he escapes by shedding his coat with false arms and leaping onto a moving bus. Josephine leaves the restaurant with the American boxer Dixon; the next evening, Dixon barely avoids being crushed to death in his bed. Juve spies on Josephine, sees her meet Chaleck at her apartment, and then shortly after his departure fling herself from her fourth-floor balcony in terror.

Fandor recognizes that the Mother Superior of a nearby convent is really Lady Beltham; Juve and Fandor hide in Lady Beltham's chateau and overhear a conversation between her and Chaleck/Loupart. In that conversation they learn that Chaleck and Loupart are indeed the same person, Fantômas. They also learn that Valgrand's widow (from Fantômas), taken on under an alias by Lady Beltham as a paid companion, is actually the murder victim found crushed in Chaleck's house. Fantômas also announces that Juve will be killed in four days' time. On the appointed night, Juve goes to bed protected by spiked belts wrapped around his body; in the middle of the night, the silent executioner—a boa constrictor which has already killed Madame Valgrand, attacked Dixon and frightened Josephine into near-suicide—crawls through Juve's window and tries to crush him, but is wounded by the spikes instead.

Juve sets up a dragnet to bring in Loupart's gang, and follows Fantômas—for the first time in the series dressed in what will become his trademark all in black, with a black cape and hood—to Lady Beltham's chateau. But Fantômas has packed the house with dynamite, and when Juve and Fandor enter the house he destroys it and makes his escape.

"But were Juve and Fandor among the dead?"

—Synopsis by Robin Walz, et al.

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