Friday, March 3, 2017

Georges Simenon's Maigret (Penguin, 2015)


First, with a personal postscript at the bottom of the page, here is my review of Georges Simenon's Maigret (Penguin, 2015):


In this 2015 Penguin translation of a small masterpiece (first published in Le Jour in instalments from 20 February to 15 March 1934, and published in book form by Fayard in 1934), when the action of Maigret begins, the pipe-smoking retired policeman has been living with his wife in a rustic house 'that smelled of wood smoke and goat's milk' in Meung. However, he is suddenly thrown 'back in a world he had long since left behind.'

The problems begin when his nephew Philippe – 'the tall, plump, auburn-haired boy with baby-pink skin' who has recently been employed in the same profession from which Maigret retired – arrives in the middle of the night. Philippe explains: 'I'm going to tell you everything, Uncle. I'm in big trouble. If you don't help me, if you don't come to Paris with me, I don't know what will become of me. I'm going out of my mind.' On the verge of tears, the nephew continues: 'I bet I'll be arrested later ... Suddenly, there was a gunshot. He was dead.'

And what else does Maigret learn when he returns to Paris with Philippe? The dead man was a petty criminal with connection to many more criminals; a witness of questionable pedigree has identified Philippe as the killer, the too eager police authorities will soon arrest the frightened nephew, and Maigret – even though he is retired – will work occasionally with and sometimes against his former colleagues but mostly by himself to exonerate Philippe.

Before the exciting adventure ends, Maigret, confronting some of the most dangerous criminals in Paris, will be 'in danger of dying a stupid and horrible death ... lying in the dirt, severely wounded, and howling with pain for hours before anyone would come to his aid.' But, it would be 'too late to turn back.' Yes, in spite of the dangers, Maigret – 'big, broad, and heavy' - will persist until the very end of the case because of two simple motivations: (1) family responsibilities; and (2) 'I cannot stand cretins!'

Well, that should whet your appetite for more from Simenon's Maigret. Read this great crime novella, 140-pages of excitement and complications, and you (like me) will agree with Muriel Spark's assessment of the author: 'A truly wonderful writer ... marvelously readable – lucid, simple, absolutely in tune with the word he creates.'


* * * * *

And there is this personal postscript:

Even though the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again but expecting different results, I am resuming book-blogging at this new address. I look forward to your visits and comments.




11 comments:

  1. Jules Maigret is a great character, isn't he, Tim? And as far as crime fiction's concerned, I think Simenon was one of the best out there. Nice to see you've highlighted one of his books.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Margot, in spite of what people say about plans of mice and men, I plan on reading many more Simenon novels in the near future. In fact, I just received a new one from the publisher this morning. (And thanks for stopping by and commenting!)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have read a few of Simenon's crime novels. They are fun to read and they move quickly. Maigret is an interesting character and I like vicariously visiting Paris when reading the stories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sharon, the book are fun! I hope to read more of them.

      Delete
  4. Great review RT

    This is a genre that I have read little of. I want to give it a try. A book like this that is short and engrossing may be a good place for me to start. I may give this a try.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brian, if you are not concerned about reading the dozens in sequence, this one would be a good introduction to Simenon and a Maigret.

      Delete
  5. Tim,

    Simenon always delivers a very readable and entertaining book. I'm slowly working my way through his Maigret list,mainly because of habit, but as as I can see, they are separate works and the order matters little.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fred, the new Penguin editions are a great addition to any reading list; you're right about the order not mattering much

      Delete
  6. Welcome back Tim - I love this series but not read the new Penguin yet

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! The Penguin series is a wonderful gift to book lovers and Simenon fans. I now have several dozen on my shelf, and I need to make a commitment to read more (all?) of them soon.

      Delete
  7. Nice one. I've (sadly) read all the Maigrets, novels and short stories. I've been replacing my old copies one by one with the new Penguin editions and plan to reread them, possibly in order, Any Day Now.

    Good luck with the new blog.

    ReplyDelete