Hortebise applauds Mascarin for his artistry: “"Bravo!" he exclaimed, clapping his hands together."Bravo, my dear Mascarin, you have excelled yourself to-day!"” (Ibid.)
Gaboriau plays with the reader’s expectations. When Toto Chupin sabotages the scaffolding in order to kill André, we have a classic Hitchock-moment: we know that a deadly trap has been laid for our hero (The Mystery of Champdoce, Chapter 28). For several chapters (and days) André continues to make progress in his investigation into the blackmail case. We expect (and hope?) that this amateur detective hero will be saved and we almost forget about the trap – until André has reason to climb up the scaffolding and he falls (The Mystery of Champdoce, Chapter 33). Our attention has been focused on André, because he has been the character to carry forward the attempts to catch Mascarin. Now he is suddenly removed from the scene severely injured.
The chapters of the novel are carefully balanced to give us two opposing perspectives into the events and characters involved. In The Mystery of Champdoce, the eighteen chapters of Mascarin’s manuscript provide the story that has been hovering in the background through the whole of Caught in the Net. It brings the story up to date and fills in all the gaps. It is followed by two chapters from Mascarin’s perspective. In chapter 21, the focus moves to André, and for the next four chapters we see how he takes on the role of a detective: “detective's business was quite new to him, which is no such easy matter, although everyone thinks that he can become one.” (The Mystery of Champdoce, Chapter 25). In the following four chapters we are again with Mascarin, and then return to André for another four chapters, until he plummets to the ground from the scaffolding. The last two chapters (Chapter 34 and 35) are a climactic denouement of the intricate plots (Mascarin’s and Gaboriau’s).
There are clear methods in The Slaves of Paris of manipulating the reader’s expectations: first there are the clues and hints and their timely explanations to keep the reader hooked and entertained. Secondly, there are the primed traps, which are triggered in unexpected ways. Thirdly, there is the varying perspective where the same events are interpreted from different viewpoints. All this works as a smoke-screen to shield our eyes from the real surprise – Mascarin’s own secret – something so obvious you really should have spotted it almost from the beginning.