The Triumphs of Eugène Valmont - Robert Barr 1905 Circa - George Bell & Sons, London and Bombay - First Colonial Edition The rare first collection of Eugène Valmont mysteries, the most successful literary French detective of his era, and the first in a long line of humorous detectives. Created not by a French writer but by a Scotsman who had grown up in Canada and returned to the UK to forge a literary career, founding The Idler magazine together with Jerome K. Jerome in 1892.

Although Robert Barr’s
Eugène Valmont has Sherlock Holmes-like qualities, he is ‘a much more tongue-in-cheek creation’. ‘The title of the book seems ironic. We see very few of his triumphs. The very first story explains why he has had to leave France to avoid becoming a laughing stock and, in the rest of the tales, he fails far more often than he succeeds. Yet none of these setbacks ever daunts him or dents his supreme self-confidence. ‘I have had my failures of course,’ he acknowledges but he remains a happy egotist. Whether dealing with a gang of anarchists in ‘The Siamese Twin of a Bomb-Thrower’ or flirting with the supernatural in ‘The Ghost with the Club-Foot’, his sense of style and his almost Poirot-like conceit never desert him.’ (Nick Rennison, from the preface to the Gaslight Crime edition).

It appears this ‘First Colonial Edition’ was published by George Bell in 1905, the year before the ‘First Edition’ of Hurst & Blackett. The adverts included are dated July 1905 and September 1905. Although it contains the same short stories, the titles and chapter headings match those of the 1906 American edition, and those of the original stories printed in
Windsor Magazine and Pearson’s Magazine in 1904-5.
  Ellery Queen in Queen’s Quorum says that ‘Barr intended this to be a satirization of the nationalistic differences between the French and English police systems and, as such, the book is a trenchant, if unrecognised, tour de force. The humour warmth and ingenuity - especially in the classic story The Absent Minded Coterie - are extra dividends.

With the statement ‘
This edition is issued for circulation in India and the Colonies only.’ on page opposite title, and the printers logo for ‘The Chapel River Press, Kingston Surrey’ to verso of title.

References: Ellery Queen,
The Detective Short Story 10, listing the first edition as published by Hurst & Blackett, 1906, in duodecimo of rose cloth. Ellery Queen, Queen’s Quorum, 35.

Octavo (18.7 x 12.5 cm) pp. [viii] 307 [1] [6 (publisher’s ads 1906)] [16 (Publisher’s ads dated September, 1905)]. In publisher burgundy coloured wrappers, lettered in black to spine, decorated and lettered in black to front panel, and with a list of ‘
Bell’s Colonial Editions of Standard Books’ on the rear panel. Front and rear endpapers consisting of a two page list of Bell’s Foreign and Colonial Agents, followed a three page list of books in ‘Bell’s Indian and Colonial Library’ dated July, 1905.
  Condition: Very good, split along rear hinge of spine, some sunning to spine, internally near fine to fine, light overall toning, slightly shaken.   Ref: 109024   Price: HK$ 4,500