I recently discovered Georges Simenon and his Inspector Maigret, and now I’m afraid I will have to buy every one of his books. This won’t be cheap as there are apparently 75 novels and 28 short stories, but if I take my time, I should be able to pick up all 103 titles cheaply enough.
I started with Madame Maigret’s Own Case, the 34th Maigret, though I did not know that when I picked it up. Perhaps as a reflection of the time it was written (1950) the Inspector’s wife’s entrance into the case is distinctly limited in some ways. though she does actually crack the case wide open.
The books are somewhat thin (180 pages), and read quickly. I finished this one in a few hours. In those hours, I was transported to a Paris of Simenon’s creation that captivated me. How closely the author’s rendition ever matched Paris as it was, I’ll never know. That time has long ago passed into memory. But I could picture the characters questioning suspects repeatedly, stopping constantly for beer just across from the suspect’s shop, and if it isn’t real, I don’t want to know.
This particular case is kicked into action by an anonymous note to the police suggesting that they investigate a particular shopkeeper. Warrant in hand, the shop is searched, and two human teeth are found in the furnace while a blood-stained suit is found in the closet. Various witnesses describe thick clouds of black smoke and several extra trips with ashes the previous weekend, but the shopkeeper steadfastly maintains his innocence, or rather his lawyer does – the suit isn’t his – and there is no proof, no known motive, and maybe no opportunity, either. But Maigret is on the case.
These translations from the French come across as breezy as Wodehouse but with gravity befitting the crimes portrayed.
Now on to the next Maigret! And the next…
Madame Maigret’s Own Case – Georges Simonen
Readability: Very quick and easy, a light read.
Philosophy: It’s a man’s world, Paris, and good will triumph over evil.
Suitability: While it deals with adult subjects such as murder, it should not be especially objectionable otherwise. Similar to Christie in content.
(This review also appears at W6 Daily.)