Mr. Jean Duluc had been an investigator with the highly respected Sûreté Nationale, the former criminal investigative bureau of the Parisian police. Just over a century ago he left the police and set up his own private investigation company. His original license still graces the wall of the Duluc, his enormous moustaches every bit as impressive as Poirot’s.
“The agency can be traced through two families”, continues Madame Baret. “Jean Duluc and his daughter, and my father and me”. With over half a century of experience as a private investigator in Paris, Baret specializes in all manner of secret investigative work, from missing persons, to industrial espionage, to embezzlements and swindling. “Every case, big or small is important”, explains Baret. “When researching a client’s dossier it takes you on a journey that feels like unwinding a ball of yarn; most of the time you end up digging into very old aspects of a case given by the mandate. When you finally reach your goal, it’s marvelous.”
When Martine Baret began working at the family firm in the 1960s, there were about ten private eye firms in Paris. The number of firms grew in the 1980s and 90s to about a hundred, but today there are hardly any left. Social media might have made us all amateur detectives at one point or another, but Baret believes another reason for the decline in French professional detective agencies is the relatively recent changes to divorce laws in France. Baret explains; “Since 2004, divorce by mutual consent was established.” Once it became no longer necessary for couples to prove infidelity in court, the need for surveillance of possible indiscretions declined. “When I started in 1966, infidelity dossiers accounted for 80% of my cases”, says Baret, “whereas today they make up 20%.” But the highly experienced real life private eye still recommends surveillance in such cases; “People still need to take the proper steps to educate themselves….be in the know before you make decisions. If we trace the evolution of infidelity, both cell phones and email have become practical – everything moves much faster!”
Private investigators have long been a staple of the fictional universe. But how does a Philip Marlowe or an Hercule Poirot compare to the real life world of the private detective?
“Regarding private fake detectives of the silver screen, and real detectives…well, the fictional ones can do everything!”, opines Madame Baret, “and the real life detectives are a bit more limited, albeit only by their own actions. The line between myth and reality becomes fuzzy!”
But there is one fictional private detective who has enjoyed a unique relationship with the Duluc Detective agency.