Robert "Le Manchot" Dumont

Created by Pierre Saurel (pseudonym of Pierre Daignault)
(1925 --)

Tabernaque! I can't believe I missed this eye, operating in my own backyard! Talk about your two solitudes!

ROBERT DUMONT is more commonly known as "Le Manchot," aka "The Penguin." He's a French-speaking Montreal private eye with a reputation for toughness and getting results, and also for being more than a little peculiar at times.

Originally a detective attached to the violent crimes squad of the Montreal Urban Community police, he lost the use of the left hand in an accident. He wanted to return to work, but his boss, Inspector Jules Bernier, refused to put him back on the street, instead confining him to clerical work .

Angry, but refusing to be defeated, Dumont took early retirement. Then, working closely with experts at L'institut de réadaptation de Montréal, he had an artificial hand made, a sophisticated and powerful prosthetic at least ten times as strong as a natural hand. Think of him as a Québecois Sarge Steel.

Not wishing to remain inactive, Dumont became a private detective, opening his own agency in downtown Montreal. Among his operatives are Michel Beaulac, his former partner on the force, Candine "Candy" Varin, a statuesque blonde who would have liked to become police and Serge Joubert, a young student working his way through university. But the agency' also offers its clients a complete security service. The majority of the guards are retired police officers.

Le Manchot appeared in a long string of very successful paperbacks written in French by Pierre Saurelis (real name Pierre Daignault), a very prolific Québecois pulp writer who had already created several series in the popular fascicules format (32-page booklets ) going back to the forties.

Born in Montreal, he studied for two years at Collège Saint-Ignace and then worked for a few years at city hall, before deciding to follow in the footsteps of his father, and become an actor. In 1949, he started his own theatre company, and directed it until 1962, averaging over 75 productions a year. He also began appearing regularly on radio and television, and became quite famous for his portrayal of the landlord Père Ovide (ti-père) in the very popular téléroman Les Belles Histoires Des Pays D'en Haut de Claude Henri Grignon.

Not content to rest on his laurels, he also became a pulp writer. In the spring of 1947, after several years of writing for radio, he proposed a serialized spy novel to the editor of Police Journal. In September of that year, the first of many Des Aventures étranges de l'agent IXE-13 appeared, relating the adventures of "the ace of the Canadian spies."

Encouraged by that success, Saurel, after taking a coorespondence course on writing mysteries, followed it up with several other popular series, including the astonisingly successful Les Aventures Policières d'Albert Brien (over 1000 stories) featuring Montéal private eye Albert Brien and his son, Robert. Other series Saurel had a hand in included Les Aventures de Cow-Boys, Les Exploits Policiers du Domino Noir (a masked crimefighter), Diane la Belle Aventuriére (literally a beautiful adventurer) and perhaps most successfully, Agent IXE-13 (the "Ace of Canadian Spies")," which reportedly sold over 28 million copies between 1947 and 1967.

And in 1980, he created Le Manchot, which he churned out at a blistering pace until ill health forced him to retire in 1985.

TRIVIA

  • At forty-seven books, Le Manchot stands, as far as I know, as one of the longest P.I. series to be written by one man. Assuming, of course, that Saurel did write all of them.

NOVELLAS

  • La mort frappe deux fois (1980)
  • La chasse à l'héritière (1980)
  • Mademoiselle pur-sang (1980)
  • Allô... Ici, la mort (1980)
  • Le cadavre regardait la télé (1981)
  • Tueur à répétition (1981)
  • L'assassin ne prend pas de vacances (1981)
  • Bain de sang (1981)
  • L'abeille amoureuse (1981)
  • Monsieur jonas (1981)
  • Quand le chat n'est pas là (1981)
  • Il pour il (1981)
  • Corruption (1981)
  • Un doigt en boni (1981)
  • La liste maudite (1982)
  • On n'assassine pas un mourant (1982)
  • La cage des filles perdues (1982)
  • La morte prend son bain (1982)
  • Le manchot de marseille (1982)
  • La vieille est folle (1982)
  • L'homme qui ne veut pas mourir (1982)
  • La collection de têtes (1982)
  • Payé pour tuer (1983)
  • La main qui étrangle (1983)
  • Le mystère de la cloche de verre (1983)
  • La recrue de west palm beach (1983)
  • Faut vivre pour mourir (1983)
  • Nuit de terreur (1983)
  • Les murs du silence (1983)
  • Absolution (1983)
  • Douze suspects pour un suicide (1983)
  • Un homme à abattre (1984)
  • Chauffard en liberté (1984)
  • L'amnésique (1984)
  • Lettre de l'au-dela (1984)
  • Les morts anonymes (1984)
  • Carnage (1984)
  • Bain tourbillon (1984)
  • La maîtresse du caïd (1984)
  • Le cirque de la mort (1984)
  • Les évadés du pen (1984)
  • Meurtre au téléphone (1984)
  • Les autostoppeuses (1985)
  • On demande une victime (1985)
  • Règlements de comptes (1985)
  • Cercueil à louer (1985)
  • La ronde des coupables (1997)

RELATED LINKS

Literally, all the crime fiction written by Pierre Saurel. A great site, in French.

A listing of Montréal eyes.

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith (original report, April 2001).


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