Book reviews

Posts tagged ‘Georges Simenon’

Maigret by Georges Simenon

Maigret is the second Inspector Maigret novel I’ve read by Georges Simenon. I was hopeful that because the title was so simple that this might be the first novel in the set, but no. Pietr the Latvian was the first and Maigret turned out to be novel #19.

This story began with Maigret and his wife being woken in the middle of the night by an unexpected visit from their dopey nephew Philippe, who had foolishly managed to get himself framed for the murder of a gangland crook. Maigret had retired, but returned to Paris to clear his nephew’s name and save him from going to jail for a crime that he knew Philippe hadn’t committed.

Maigret soon realised that although Philippe was also a police officer his former colleagues in the police force had little interest in investigating the murder any further, so although Maigret had no official power, he immersed himself in the world of nightclubs, prostitutes, petty criminals, drug dealers and murderers, endangering his own life in his attempt to prove Philippe’s innocence.

It was clear by the second half of the story who the murderer was, but the interest came from wondering how and if Maigret might be able to prove his case.

As in Lock 14 (The Carter of La Providence), I found Simenon’s writing style to be quite terse but this time I enjoyed it better. More details of Maigret’s character and personal life were included than in the previous novel I’d read and I’m looking forward to discovering more about him as I read more of this series.

Lock 14 by Georges Simenon

Lock 14 is an early Inspector Maigret novels by Belgian writer, Georges Simenon. The story has also been published as The Carter of La Providence, The Crime at Lock 14 and Maigret Meets a Milord.

I would have preferred to start reading the Inspector Maigret stories with the first book in the series but as my library didn’t have a copy of Pietr the Latvian I was more than happy to start with what I could get, having had many recommendations to read Simenon’s books.

Lock 14 is set on a canal, something which doesn’t exist in my area of the world. The characters included working people on barges, an Englishman and an odd assortment of guests on his pleasure yacht, plus the managers of the locks who ran the lock-side inns along the canal.

When a woman was found strangled to death in a stable near Lock 14 Inspector Maigret attended but initially found, as the first paragraph of the story said, that the facts of the case proved nothing.

The dead woman was identified as the wife of the English ‘Milord.’ Soon after Maigret’s arrival, another man who had been travelling on the yacht was also found murdered.

The story is very short and the writing style is terse. Descriptions of the characters and events are brief but telling with very little emotion shown by any of the characters despite a murderer being in their midst. I did feel that Maigret privately made moral judgements on many of the more hedonistic characters although his distaste was not overtly described.

I guessed who the murderer was prior to the dramatic end reveal, so found this story to be more of a psychological study than a mystery. My favourite Belgian detective is still Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, but with further reading, I expect I might warm to Maigret.


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