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BOOK SEVENTH: Patron Minette
We get a brief look at the dark side of Paris; according to the narrator, “the only social peril is darkness.” A quartet of bandits named Claquesous, Gueulemer, Babet, and Montparnasse rule the slums from 1830 to 1835. These men call themselves the Patron-Minette and use a large variety of pseudonyms both to carry out their own crimes and to hire out their services to anyone who is willing to pay for a crime he or she wants committed. The prime importance of this group is that Thenardier eventually uses their service and finally joins them.
The existence of the criminal element brings in a little more of the Parisian culture. The criminal underworld horrified the people of Paris even as it intrigued them. Almost anyone could be a part of it due to the ease with which people could disguise themselves and take on multiple identities. Certain individuals, however, seem to have developed a pattern which police began to recognize, and which individuals like Thenardier saw as an invitation for a life of profitable crime for themselves. The idea of profit was an illusion however; Thenardier, once he has lost his business, never has anything else to show for himself.