*Paris. Although the French capital is the country’s political, cultural, and artistic center, none of these attributes appears to matter in Monsieur Lecoq, except insofar as they contribute to the quest for justice, or, more likely, to crime. The only time that one of Paris’s famous cathedrals appears is when its bell wakes Lecoq; the only allusion to the city’s arts is made when Lecoq visits theaters investigating the identity of a man suspected of a triple homicide. Likewise, no private or public Parisian venue exists except as it relates to the investigation. Émile Gaboriau, who worked in Paris as a journalist, describes the living quarters of the very rich and the very poor; crime and justice are all that unite them. This is emphasized when Lecoq visits the morgue, which many Parisians of the period visited for entertainment.
A great deal of Lecoq’s expertise is his knowledge of Paris. There, Gaboriau draws on his own knowledge of the city, learned as a journalist. This knowledge extends beyond the official maps of the city; Lecoq trails his murder suspects out of a garden and into the unmarked wasteland beyond; he can track suspects even down unnamed streets.
Locales outside Paris are important primarily as they influence Paris, symbolizing European anxiety over a shifting sense of place in the nineteenth century. Some places produce known characters, such as a coachman who volunteers his help in the investigation in part because he is a Breton....
(The entire section is 624 words.)