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1. Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard
2. The Hotel Majestic (Penguin Mysteries)
3. The Madman of Bergerac
4. Dirty Snow (New York Review Books
5. The Man Who Watched Trains Go
6. The Bar on the Seine (Penguin
7. The Widow (New York Review Books
8. Maigret in Holland (Maigret Mystery
9. Maigret and the Fortuneteller
10. Maigret's Pipe: Seventeen Stories
11. Tropic Moon (New York Review Books
12. Maigret Et I'homme Du Banc (French
13. Maigret and the Flemish Shop
14. Act of Passion
15. Maigret on the Riviera
16. Red Lights (New York Review Books
17. Maigret Et la Vielle Dame (French
18. A Man's Head (Inspector Maigret
19. Maigret at the Coroner's
20. Maigret and the Nahour Case (Maigret

1. Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard (Inspector Maigret Mysteries)
by Georges Simenon
Paperback: 224 Pages (2007-12-18)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$5.44
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 014311283X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Three vintage Maigret novels by legendary mystery author Georges Simenon

One of the world 's most successful crime writers, Georges Simenon has thrilled mystery lovers since 1931 with his matchless creation Inspector Maigret. In My Friend Maigret, Inspector Maigret investigates the murder of a small- time crook on a Mediterranean island. Told in Simenon's spare, unsentimental prose, Inspector Cadaver is a haunting exploration of provincial hypocrisy and snobbery, in which Maigret encounters a rival sleuth from his past. In Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard, Simenon's tenacious detective pieces together the life of a man who for three years lived a secret life-until he is found stabbed to death in an alleyway. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

4-0 out of 5 stars Shoes make the man
A middle-aged man wearing tan shoes and a startled expression is found with a knife in his back lying in a narrow alley in a downscale commercial neighborhood of Paris.Enter the redoubtable Inspector Superintendent Maigret of the Police Judiciare, who finds, in the course of investigating the murder, that the victim had been leading two lives--one as an ordinary petit bourgeois husband and father and another as something the polar opposite.Money and passion are naturally part of the mystery.The murdered man--one Louis Thoret--was not greatly loved by his wife and she is quick to deny that her husband would ever wear the tacky tan shoes that were on his feet at the time of his death.And thus the shoes point the way for Maigret toward the second identity of the mysterious M. Thoret.

As always, author Georges Simenon provides an intriguing and complex story of base human behavior and misbehavior that ultimately leads to crime and violence--and ultimately to some of the most banal and ordinary motivations.Simenon is very close to his illustrious predecessor, Emile Zola. in understanding what makes people of all classes, but particularly of the underclass, tick.

This is also the story of life in Paris, its neighborhoods, cafes and daily life told in what is a literally a timeless way, but presumably sometime in the early 1950s.This is a period when the phrase "on the telephone" means having a telephone hardwired in your home and not talking on the horn.Apparently postwar Paris was not a city where everyone had yet been connected.

"Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard" is another very fine read in the series of stories republished in paperback by Penguin.Recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Senseless crime? Or not?
This is a fascinating tale of how a conventional man can be driven by happenstance into wildly unconventional behavior. Solving the case is Maigret's task, but unraveling the mysteries surrounding the victim is what really interests him.

Louis Thouret is found stabbed in the back in a cul-de-sac off a busy boulevard. It looks like a common mugging, but Maigret is intrigued by the victim's light brown shoes and bright tie. Neither is in tune with his respectable business attire.

"Louis never wore brown shoes," says his tearless wife, when identifying the body. That's not his tie either.

As Maigret investigates the man's oppressive family and grim work situation, he uncovers the secret life of the victim. Simenon's wry handling of each revelation is delightful. As always, the clever Chief Superintendent more than earns his second glass of brandy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Maigret
What a loss when Georges Simenon died.Not only for the Maigrets but for all the psychological essays he created.When one looks at his body of work and that many of his mysteries were completed in 3 days yet not diminished in quality.

The mystery part is not the best of his stuff -- its the characterizaations and descriptions.

4-0 out of 5 stars Layered Plot with Continual Surprises
Simenon is said to have described his stories as sketches, somewhat like preliminary drawings by an artist. This is not to say that the Maigret mysteries are unfinished, but they are perhaps lacking in decorative elements. This particular story - Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard - has elements, particularly the rather abrupt ending, that make it seem even less polished. However, the thesis is intriguing and this is classic Maigret with all of his daily routines and his personal foibles.

Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard reminds me of an early Sherlock Holmes mystery, The Man with the Twisted Lip, a tale of an apparently successful businessman, Mr. Neville St. Clair, that secretly poses as a beggar as he (unbeknownst to his family) has lost his job.Due to unfortunate circumstances the beggar is accused of murdering St. Clair (himself, that is), but refuses to reveal his true identify and thereby shame his family.

In Maigret's case, however, the secret identity of Louis Thouret only becomes known as Maigret begins investigating Thouret's actual murder.

Thouret's routine, that of spending his days sitting on a bench, provided no explanation for his substantial income. Maigret slowly peels back each layer of this puzzle, revealing a double life, duplicity, blackmail, theft, and murder. The introduction of the culprit, a stranger, a new character, in the final chapter is disconcerting, even though such events do occur in actual investigations. The astute reader, undoubtedly, would have considered this possibility or something similar as other leads proved untenable.

Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard was published in France in 1953, but was not available in English until 1975.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great start, fizzles a little
Of the several Maigret police procedurals I've read, this is probably the least of them, and yet it is still better than most recent mysteries.The novel begins with great promise, a puzzling murder--then seems to dwindle out near the end.

A stabbed corpse is found in a Paris cul de sac off a busy boulevard.This is not extraordinary--murders happen in the city.The strange thing is that the victim is not wearing the black shoes he had on when he left wife and home that morning, nor is his necktie the same.Even stranger, he has "gone to work" three years at a place of business which was closed.And yet he has plenty of money.

Chief Inspector Maigret tracks it all down, piece by piece, and the reader is treated to wonderful characters and the byways of Paris.That is all excellent, as well as the dialogue and the economy of language to make a point.The book is well worth reading for all these things.

But the ending just wasn't up to the rest of the novel, alas.For a book to merit top rating, it needs to have a satisfying ending, and I didn't find it so here. ... Read more

2. The Hotel Majestic (Penguin Mysteries)
by Georges Simenon
Paperback: 176 Pages (2006-12-26)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$5.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143038451
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Penguin delivers two more vintage Inspector Maigret novels by the legendary mystery author

In The Hotel Majestic, Maigret investigates the murder of Mrs. Clark, the wife of a wealthy American industrialist, whose strangled body is found in the basement of an upscale hotel near the Champs-Élysées. Maigret’s inquiries take him from the endless corridors of the Hotel Majestic to the countryside of the Bois de Boulogne and sun-drenched Cannes, into a world of prostitution, drug addiction, and blackmail. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Hotel Majestic by Simenon
Prompt delivery and good edition.Thank you.A good read,takes place in Paris and Cannes,similar suspense to Agatha Christie's set up but deeper psychology into characters.

4-0 out of 5 stars Upstairs/Downstairs ala Parisian
"The Hotel Majestic" is one of many of Georges Simenon's deftly written Inspector Maigret stories that play beautifully against a backdrop of mid-20th Century Paris.In this case, it's two consecutive murders in the service basement of an up-scale Paris hotel circa 1938.This particular Maigret tale takes a sympathetic look at some underclass souls who have labored for years in hotels and clubs making life entertaining and undemanding for the wealthy and privileged.

Early on in "Hotel Majestic," it seems as though the working class will take still another hit to preserve convenience and tranquility for the rich.But Inspector Maigret has no patience for convenient solutions, no particular affection for the upper-class, and ultimately preventsa miscarriage of justice that would make the lives of the working class characters in this tale more miserable and difficult.

As always, author Simenon provides the reader with a rich and sustaining period environment which is worth the price of the book alone.This is a good mystery with an even better context.Recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Simenon unsurpassed.
Georges Simenon is peerless in his genre, and I strongly encourage any of you who have not read his novels to get with the program.One caveat: it can be addictive.I especially like the "romans dures" but the detective genre is raised a big notch with the Maigret works made popular on the PBS series.And the best news of all?He wrote hundreds of books.

4-0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the Hotel Majestic
Georges Simenon was the author of over 100 Inspector Maigret mystery stories. They were immensely popular in the 1930s through the 1960s. Inspector Maigret stories also appeared in film and TV version. Simenon also authored dozens of books described as "romans durs", `hard stories' that had a darker tone than his Maigret novels.Simenon seems to have fallen under the radar in recent decades but in recent years he seems to have been rediscovered by a new generation of mystery/detective story fans. Penguin Books has begun to reissue some of those Maigret mysteries and the New York Review of Books Press has reissued some of his `hard stories', dark novels that did not feature Inspector Maigret. Penguin's latest Inspector Maigret Mystery reissue, "The Hotel Majestic" is as good a place to start for anyone wishing to discover (or re-discover) Simenon.

As with most police procedurals, the Hotel Majestic begins with a dead body.Mrs. Clark, a guest traveling with her wealthy American husband, their child and a governess, has been found murdered and stuffed into an empty locker in the basement of the Hotel Majestic.Maigret arrives to begin the investigation. His investigation quickly draws him into two parallel words: the world upstairs of champagne and caviar and the world downstairs filled with hotel employees eking out a living.Maigret's investigation begins with an examination into how and why these two different worlds collided in this brief but deadly incident.From there he proceeds to interview everyone and anyone who might have information about the crime of the victim.Maigret is no Sherlock Holmes.For Maigret, crimes are to be solved by a process of accumulating as much information as possible and then analyzing that information based on his past experience.Maigret plays hunches to be sure but Maigret's chief weapon is perseverance and determination.Consequently, the reader is presented with information about the crime and the protagonists in real time along with Maigret.As I read these stories I find myself absorbing these bits of information and trying to weigh them against the information previously disclosed.This served to keep me engaged throughout the book and caused me to keep turning page after page until the `final curtain'.

Simenon has a keen ear for dialogue and character development.Maigret is not a character that is revealed to the reader immediately. Simenon doesn't set about to provide you with a character map to Maigret's personality in any one book. Rather, he grows on you over time. He has an innate disdain for higher authority that is appealing. Simenon's settings and other characters also add a dash to his Maigret mysteries. These are not parlor room mysteries where the reader has to determine which upper-class member of the gentry (or the butler) committed murder most foul in the library. Simenon's stories have the feel of grit and the demimonde about them that adds a bit of spice to the `formula'.In Hotel Majestic, Simenon's description of the hard-streets and dark bars of Paris and the people that inhabit them all seem quite fully realized to me.

All in all, I find Simenon's Maigret mysteries to be consistently entertaining.They may not be as dark or foreboding as the novels released by New York Review of Books - but it you like well-written, taut, police procedurals you will like Georges Simenon's Hotel Majestic.Recommended. L. Fleisig
... Read more

3. The Madman of Bergerac
by Georges Simenon
Paperback: 176 Pages (2007-06-05)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$8.51
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143111965
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
One of the world’s most successful crime writers, Georges Simenon has thrilled mystery lovers around the world since 1931 with his matchless creation Inspector Maigret. In The Madman of Bergerac, Maigret gets caught up in an investigation in a provincial French town terrorized by a maniacal murderer—only after being shot following a man who has mysteriously jumped off a moving train. The Madman of Bergerac captures the obsessive snobbery and hypocrisy of small-town bourgeoisie. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Quick read.
It's France in the 1930s, Inspector Maigret has been shot, and incredibly he solves the case never having left his hospital bed. It's easy to read the Maigret series because the stories are short and can be read in one day.

4-0 out of 5 stars "Madame Maigret sat down with an air of resignation."
If I hadn't read The Madman of Bergerac together with Liberty Bar, I probably would have liked it more. It's a clever idea-- Maigret manages to solve a murder from his bed after being injured from an incident on the train. It's a clever conceit, and it's a pleasure to watch Simenon manage to capture Bergerac with a stationary main character.

There's some extra interest for historians of 1930s Europe in the book, as aspects of the plot illustrate neatly how Jewish/Eastern European refugees were viewed by their Western European contemporaries.

The Madman of Bergerac was the 16th Maigret novel. Recommended.

4-0 out of 5 stars Maigret Solves Crimes While Laying in Bed!
In Georges Simenon's 16th Maigret novel, our man manages to combine a routine police assignment with pleasure trip to visit a retired colleague in Bergerac. While on the long train trip south, however, a fellow passenger arouses Maigret's suspicions and when the fellow leaps from the train in the middle of the night Maigret follows suit.

Maigret catches a bullet for his trouble and awakes in Bergerac to find himself under suspicion of murder. Two local women have been killed in separate unexplained attacks with a ghoulish twist: The assailant pierced their hearts with a needle. The arrival of Maigret's friend, the former detective Leduc, soon dispels any notion of guilt and much to the chagrin of the local authorities Maigret's injuries prevent him from traveling.

With the assistance of Madame Maigret, the intrepid Paris detective works to solve the crime from his bed! He manages to unravel quite a tangled web of deceit - just when the local prosecutor has decided that the case has been resolved by the killer's suicide. Simenon also uses the story's location to express his disdain for the rustics who inhabit Bergerac (At one point, Maigret asks his wife if the town has a movie theater. She answers affirmatively, but adds that she had seen the theater's current attraction at least three years ago in Paris!).

The Madman of Bergerac has a few loose ends and the explanation of the murders is a bit far-fetched, but Simenon weaves an excellent subplot that takes center stage and ends with a bang - or two. Simenon gives us another entertaining Maigret story and as always it will not detain the reader for more than a few hours.

5-0 out of 5 stars Madman of Bergerac
Great dealer, excellent service buy with confidence. Great book too! funny, fast and well written. Simenon says in one sentence what many writers struggle to say in a paragraph.

4-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Insightful Inspector Maigret Mystery
Georges Simenon created 75 short novels and nearly 30 short stories featuring Inspector Maigret.With such prodigious output there was considerable danger of repetition, even monotony.And yet, the Maigret mysteries are notable for their variety.

The Madman of Bergerac is a classic example of Simenon's ability to surprise the reader. Within pages we find our friend (and indeed it is difficult not to like and to admire Maigret) shot for no apparent reason.Feverish and in pain, Maigret tries to unravel two murders from his bed in a small hotel in Bergerac before more killings occur.

Maigret (and the reader) must rely on second hand accounts and descriptions of various locales related to the murders.All that visit him - the local prosecutor, the examining magistrate, the local police inspector, and others - are convinced that these murders are the work of a madman. Maigret himself is unsure, and in expressing doubt alienates the local authorities.

Paying attention to dialogue is always important in a Maigret mystery, but with Maigret trapped in his bed, barely able to move, dialogue is even more critical.Lacking his Parisian detective staffthe incapacitated Maigret proceeds by way of his intellect and deductive skills, giving us greater insight into Maigret himself.As with many Maigret mysteries, the solution is in part dependent on information provided by police agencies elsewhere.This is as it should be as these stories are an early form of the procedural mystery.

The Madman of Bergerac was first published in France in 1932. This 2003 paperback edition by Penguin Books is most welcome. The stylish cover and unique size (4.75 x 6.5 inches) lend a contemporary feeling to this reprint.The price is a little high, but nonetheless I am looking forward to more Maigret mysteries from Penguin Books. ... Read more

4. Dirty Snow (New York Review Books Classics)
by Georges Simenon
Paperback: 272 Pages (2003-08-31)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$8.56
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1590170431
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Dirty Snow, widely acknowledged as one of Simenon's finest books, is a study of the criminal mind comparable to Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me. It tells the story of Frank, a pimp, a petty thief, and collaborator in occupied France. Through the long and unrelenting cold and darkness of a long winter Frank pursues all the possibilites of perdition until at last there is nowhere left to go.

Hans Koning has described Dirty Snow as "one of the very few novels to come out of German-occupied France that gets it exactly right." Simenon maps a no man’s land of the spirit in which human nature is driven to destruction—and redemption, perhaps, as well—by forces beyond its control. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Portrait of a monster as a young man
Although the setting and the authorities are never identified, Frank Friedmaier and his mother operate a brothel from their apartment in a city resembling Nazi-occupied Brussels. He is a nobody, but his mother's business gives him certain privileges--food, fuel, freedom--denied to other natives of the city. Aimless, amoral, aloof, Frank embarks on an utterly senseless, sadistic crime spree. Not only is this a masterful account of life during the Occupation, it's the bleakest, most cynical example of noir you'll probably ever encounter.

Evildoers in noir novels usually have, if not a motive (money, jealousy, revenge), then at least an underlying, explicable psychological condition--something that makes them, if not likable at least empathetic. "Dirty Snow," however, is almost excruciating to read; at no point will readers find they are rooting for this squalid punk. (Nor, for that matter, are we pulling for the authorities.) Unlike such superficially winsome characters as Tom Ripley or Lou Ford ("The Killer Inside Me"), Frank commits his vile crimes for no apparent reason, except perhaps, as William Vollmann writes in a brilliant afterword, "to be recognized. He wants to be known."

Certainly his lack of a father explains Frank's obsession with his neighbor Holst, whose daughter is one of his victims. ("It would have made him so happy--it would have relieved him of such a burden--to say, "Father!") But, above all, Frank wants to be in control, in this city filled with "more and more people with eyes that were dead." Even in prison, he struggles to be the master of his jailers' capricious routines and of every dreary moment of each passing day; he clings to the vision of a woman framed by an apartment window and imagines her living in a blissful poverty with her husband, "with their child in its cradle, their bed that smelled of them." The struggle to be someone, to have a life worth noticing is the closest thing to a motive Simenon offers.

"Dirty Snow" is often compared to Camus's "The Stranger" for the utter bleakness of its atmosphere and the irrationality of Frank's behavior and to the novels of Jim Thompson or Dostoevsky for its exploration of the criminal mind. But in some ways it reminds me of Flannery O'Connor's fiction--not for any kind of off-key humor, which is virtually nonexistent in Simenon's novel, but because, by the novel's end, his antihero realizes a warped sense of redemption. Perhaps that's what he wanted all along.

3-0 out of 5 stars Expected a bit more...
...something. Seemed like the typical story of an eastern block sociopath. Maybe I'm missing some deeper meaning. If your looking for an existentialist commentary about the vacuousness of life, you may like this.

5-0 out of 5 stars Despair is an expression of the total personality
doubt only of thought.Soren Kierkegaard

Frank Friedmaier, the protagonist of Georges Simenon's novel "Dirty Snow" seems to have no doubts about his life. In fact he seems to be more a creature of base animal instinct than of anything resembling thought.If he has doubts about anything they are not evident. But his words and deeds bespeak an unconscious despair so profound that the reader can feel it with every page.

Simenon was nothing if not prolific in both his literary and public life. Born in Belgium in 1903, Simenon turned out hundreds of novels. Simenon's obsession with writing caused him to break off an affair (he was prolific in this area of his life as well) with the celebrated Josephine Baker in Paris when he could only write twelve novels in the twelve month period in which they were involved. Although perhaps best known for his Inspector Maigret detective novels, Simenon also wrote over a hundred novels that he referred to as `romans durs' (literally "hard novels"). "Dirty Snow" is one of Simenon's hard novels and to call it noir is an understatement."Dirty Snow" is darker than noir, devoid of any light or optimism.In the hands of Simenon it is an absorbing (entertaining seems an inapt word) look at the darker side of life.

Frank Friedmaier lives in his mother's brothel in a small apartment building. The brothel is in an unnamed city in occupied France during World War II. Frank divides his time between the brothel and a local bar inhabited by an assortment of shady characters that include low level criminals, women of `easy virtue', and the occasional German soldier.When he returns home at night he camps down with whichever one of his mother's employees suits his fancy. What follows may best be described as nasty, brutish, and short. There is no affection, not even feigned affection, just feral activity.

The book follows Frank's descent into increasingly lower levels of behavior.He decides the time has come to kill a man, lies in wait in some snow that had been dirtied by the day's activities, and then takes a knife to a German soldier and stabs him to death.He reveals his presence to a passing neighbor, the father of a young girl who Frank seems to like, just so that the neighbor will know that Frank has murdered the soldier. Frank is confident that the neighbor will keep the information to himself. Frank next plans a robbery. The robbery is successful but Frank soon finds himself in a German prison subject to repeated interrogations.By the end of the book Frank has completed a journey that has taken him on a journey through what Dante would have considered different layers of hel l.

The fascinating aspect of Dirty Snow for me lay in the narration.Simenon has pulled off a neat trick here.The narrator is Frank and we are privy to his innermost thoughts, such as they are. Yet it is the absence of thought and the inability to evince any feeling in a rational manner that grabs the reader. There are sections, particularly those involving the daughter of the neighbor who witnessed the killing, where you can almost sense that Frank would like to act on a normal level with normal emotions.He may come close but he always retreats.As Dirty Snow ends, in a courtyard in the prison, Simenon has Frank perform one simple act involving an article of clothing.It is an act that Frank has long observed of the other prisoners. His instinctive performance of that act brings Franks journey and the book to its inevitable end.

Dirty Snow is a fascinating, if dark, look at one small aspect of the human condition.I found it well worth reading. L. Fleisig

4-0 out of 5 stars a well written book but
it is a noir book, simenon is a great writer , i just wish his main character was a little more believable,you almost wish that he would have had him declared insane.... to make it more believable.

4-0 out of 5 stars "Can anything get much worse than this?"
The above question is asked by this edition's Afterword about the protagonist's fate.Frank Friedlander is the son of a brothel keeper in an occupied country, and a self-declared 'piece of s***'.Unable to find satisfaction in abusing his mother's whores, knifing army officers or robbing old ladies' heirlooms, the one thing he constantly craves is recognition.He's a piece of s***, so you'd better step around him.Flaunting the fruits of his crimes, it's only a matter of time before his enemies exact retribution.

The novel recalls the most brutal parts of Hammett's The Glass Key, Camus' L'Etranger and Koestler's Darkness at Noon. Part of me wonders whether that should be a recommendation. ... Read more

5. The Man Who Watched Trains Go By (New York Review Books Classics)
by Georges Simenon
Paperback: 224 Pages (2005-06-10)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$6.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1590171497
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Kees Popinga is an average man, a solid citizen who might enjoy a game of chess in the evening. But one night, this model husband and devoted father discovers his boss is bankrupt and that his own carefully tended life is in ruins. Before, he had watched impassively as the trains swept by; now he catches the first one out of town and soon, commits murder before the night is out. How reliable is even the most reliable man's identity? ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars A superb, fast-paced crime novel with a dark philosophical bent...
He was a quiet man. That's what they always say about the guy who one day picks up an axe and wipes out the whole family. Kees Popinga, the central character of Georges Simenon's The Man Who Watched Trains Go By, is just such a fellow. He's got everything dialed nice and tight. He's obsessed with having constructed a first rate life: a wife, a daughter, a stove, and a house all of the "highest quality." And then in the course of one evening, as Popinga discovers that the company that helped provide this postcard-perfect life is now bankrupt, it all goes to pot. Kees Popinga snaps, kisses his whole life goodbye in one bold stroke, and embarks on a violent spree that leads him across three countries and makes him the killer du jour of the European press.

Thus, Simenon rendered one of his best roman durs, or hard novels, so named because they involve uncomfortable situations.The pacing of the novel is impeccable; Simenon allows the reader no breathing room. Perhaps it was due to the fact that The Man Who Watched Trains Go By was Simenon's eleventh novel published in 1938. That's right, eleventh. Simenon's reputation for cranking out the prose is almost unparalleled. His record was 40 novels published in 1929 (all written under various pseudonyms according to Luc Sante's introduction). Once Popinga has made up his mind to leave his old life, we are dragged by the shirt collars along with this once simple man, as he drifts further and further into madness. The bodies start to pile up and in no time, Popinga has changed from an accidental madman to a cold-calculating psychopath.

Popinga's psyche is at the heart of The Man Who Watched Trains Go By. While not told in first person, we are stuck in Popinga's brain throughout the novel. We see the reaction of Popinga's wife, as he suddenly starts to behave in un-husbandly ways, or the mocking laughter of the prostitute, Pamela, that drives Kees over the edge. As Popinga gets to the point of no return, choosing to engage in a game of cat and mouse with the French police, we are there in his skull, seeing Popinga's deranged motives and actions laid out before us. We see how we reacts to lies printed about him in the press (an especially sore sticking point that causes him to start addressing the French papers directly). We feel his mistrust of the underworld characters who cross his path (and him). We feel his rage at the lack of respect he feels from the police, especially Commissioner Lucas. All the while, we are feeling what Popinga feels, a credit to Simenon's ability to give the madman all-too-familiar psychological shortcomings.

It is with wonderful irony that Popinga's rampage, deemed a product of madness by the press, becomes a game of chess between him, the authorities, and the underworld. An avid chess player, with a noted streak for being a sore loser, Popinga considers himself a superb tactician. We see him calculate scenarios, possible reactions, and end-game maneuvers, all the while convinced of his assured victory. And in the end, you become addicted to Popinga's madness, caught up in his scheme, greatly anticipating every turn of the page.

Chalk it up to a highly skilled writer who knew his craft, and more importantly, his characters. As Sante, details in his introduction, Simenon had a somewhat unorthodox approach to concocting his stories:

"On a large yellow envelope he would, over the course of a week or two, write the names of his characters and whatever else he knew about their lives and backgrounds: their ages, where they had gone to school, their parents' professions. The envelope might additionally contain street maps of the novel's setting, although it would never say a word about the book's eventual plot. Once he was satisfied with these notes, he would enter the hermitage of his study and knock off the book at the rate of a chapter every morning."

One can see how Simenon's writing routine infuses Popinga with so much life. We know this man. Most of us have worked with him at one time or another. The fellow who is perfectly content and sedentary in his quiet suburban existence. Simenon, having laid out his pedigree prior to the novel, wastes no time stripping him of the illusion of his worth as an adult and father, turning him into a cold-calculating human animal that bears no resemblance to the content, puffed-up Popinga we are introduced to at the beginning of the novel.

Over the course of this short and punchy tale, Simenon leaves us with a very dark and disturbing exploration of a former sheep who attempts to change his entire existence, remaking himself as a the wolf. In the end, Popinga never turns out to be as smart or as ingenious as he hopes. He wants to love women, but can only kill them. He wants recognition as a criminal mastermind, but is only considered a psychotic madman. The punchline that Simenon delivers so superbly is that no matter how much Popinga's megalomania convinces him that he is up to the task, he's not the man he wishes to be.

5-0 out of 5 stars How precarious is identity!
Kees Popinga is manager of the largest ship outfitter in Dutch Frisia. His house and furnishings are of the highest quality. His wife and two children are just what they should be.

Then one evening he sees his boss, Julius de Coster, getting drunk in a bar. De Coster informs him that the company will be bankrupt the next day, and Popinga and family will be on the street.

De Coster confesses to being a fraud and a libertine. He intends to fake his own suicide and disappear, and he gives Popinga 500 florins to flee as well.

Popinga had always dreamed of being someone other than other than Kees Popinga. He takes the train to Paris. The conventional person he once was is gone with his position. He's now quite free to do whatever he pleases - and he accidentally commits a murder.

Life on the run becomes a kind of chess game, and there's something rather appealing about the smug enthusiasm Popinga brings to his new occupation. Simenon, master of the quick character sketch, peoples the madman's world with a fascinating mix of small-time crooks, prostitutes and bourgeois types.

You'll want to share this book with a friend, because it invites discussion. Is Popinga mad - or are the rest of us mad who imagine that we have solid ground beneath our feet? Was the liberated Popinga really free, or did he just assume a new character role with new rules? Are any of us ever free from our self-inventions?

5-0 out of 5 stars "There isn't any truth, you know?"
Kees Popinga, Dutch factotum in Julius de Coster the Younger's shipping firm for 17 years, lives proudly in the nicest and cleanest development in Groningen with his wife he doesn't love and his two children he doesn't understand. One winter night, utterly bored as usual, he decides to take a walk to the dock to check out one of the ships his firm was to outfit to sail the next day. From that little walk, his carefully regulated life receives a massive shock. He discovers not only that his company has done nothing for the ship and so it will not sail, but his respectable boss is happily getting drunk in a disreputable little bar. Popinga then enters the bar and is on the receiving end of a long and incredible monologue from de Coster. The firm is bankrupt, Popinga, who has invested everything in the company, is now broke, de Coster is fleeing the country, and the Mr Popinga of the past 17 years is no more.

In this romans durs (hard novel), his second in his amazing writing career, Simenon exhibits extraordinary insight into the stresses and strains of his character's psychological demons. Popinga sees the collapse of his outward life as a great opportunity to live out the urges and impulses of his repressed inner life at last. In no time at all, he is gone, walking away from his fake proper self, letting all of it go: family, home, responsibilities, inhibitions--or is he?

In this time of failing businesses and psychological stress, one wonders how many Popingas are waiting to disappear from their current lives. What makes Simenon so interesting is how well he has captured the nihilism and repression that are intimately woven into our social networks. The pacing of this story also is exceptional, as we see Popinga slowly come undone even as, outwardly, he seems utterly in control.

The blurbs on the cover of this important New York Review Books new translation (2005) actually are true, for a change: John Banville's comments: "...tough, bleak, offhandedly violent...redolent of place," New York Times: "breath-taking, fast-paced, will hold you enthralled...."And the excellent introduction by Luc Sante (which MUST be read afterward, and not before) finely describes our discomfort and repulsion toward Popinga. Yet, even as we cringe, we recognize the truth of this creation. Perhaps it is our doorway into the inner workings of human beings such as David Berkowitz or Ted Bundy or (could it be?) even ourselves.

5-0 out of 5 stars Go on a little trip with Mr. Poppinga
Firstly, I must complain about this book cover!!!! Do these people actually read the books they are trying to sell? Anyway, no use getting academic about this wonferful book by the beloved Inspector Maigret author. This novel makes you forget everything around you, and you simply become part of the protagonist's luggage on his way from Holland to Paris one cold evening. I am sure many of us wish we could just get up and leave everything behind like this family man and correct employee did. Only we hope it doesn't end like his spontaneous little outing. Oh it is a lovely WINTER book. ENDULGE under a cozy quilt.

4-0 out of 5 stars So much for family values
Kees Popinga, a conventional Dutch family man, learns that his employer has bankrupted the firm, thus depriving him of both income and savings. With all the underpinnings of his life gone, he suddenly takes one of those trains he had been watching for so long and goes to Paris, committing a more or less accidental murder along the way. The rest of the book shows him on the run, wanted by the police of two countries.

Although Simenon is most famous as the author of the Inspector Maigret mysteries, and there is certainly a police investigation in this book, the story is told from the point of view of the criminal, not the detective. There is no mystery here; Popinga leaves more than enough evidence to be identified easily, and he soon starts writing letters to the papers and the police. Even the term "on the run" is wrong; "on the walk" would be more appropriate, for Popinga remains icily calm. Although the press describe him as a madman, he has never felt more in control; it was his previous bourgeois life that was the lie, not this one.

Why does Simenon choose a Dutch protagonist and set the opening of his novel in the far North of Holland? As a French-speaking Belgian, it seems he despised the phlegmatic Flemish and Dutch temperament, and viewed their smug respectability as the death of the soul. For Kees Popinga, nearing 40, epitomizes the family values. He is a good provider, with a solid job; he has a good house in a good neighborhood, equipped with the most modern appliances; he has two perfectly-spaced children that he sends to good schools, and a wife who is so faceless that she is referred to from beginning to end as Mother. Yet, as Luc Sante describes it in his fine introduction to the NYRB edition (though NOT to be read before the novel itself), "whatever pin was holding Popinga together has been pulled out." Like a grenade, he explodes.

But unlike a grenade, he does so gradually, retaining traces of his bourgeois habits to the end. Clerklike, he keeps a meticulous notebook of his doings. Although described as a sex fiend, his relationships with the women he picks up are almost sexless. He approaches his life as a wanted man with the same care he might have used to organize an office. This is the second of Simenon's so-called "hard novels" (romans durs) that I have read, after his earlier TROPIC MOON. Both are relentless psychological studies of men who lose their hold on normal life. But whereas the earlier book was as hot as its African setting, the hardness here is that of ice; imagine a Balzac or a Dostoyevsky describing an inevitable degeneration, but in compressed form and without the passion. Chilling.

All the same, I preferred TROPIC MOON, because of the wider sweep of its indictment of colonialism. There is social criticism here too, of a certain ideal of respectability; but that is less easily localized . . . and perhaps just a little too close to home. ... Read more

6. The Bar on the Seine (Penguin Mysteries)
by Georges Simenon
 Paperback: 160 Pages (2006-12-26)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$12.35
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Asin: B003XU7VS8
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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One of the world’s most successful crime writers, Georges Simenon has thrilled mystery lovers around the world since 1931 with his matchless creation Inspector Maigret. In The Bar on the Seine, Maigret must visit a prisoner he arrested and bear the news that his reprieve has been refused and he will be executed at dawn. But when the condemned man tells Maigret a story, his investigations lead him to the Guinguette à Deux Sous, a bar by the River Seine, and into the seamy underside of bourgeois Parisian life. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Kept Me Up Late
(Previously published under the title Maigret and the Tavern by the Seine.)

Maigret delivers the bad news in person to an inmate that clemency has been denied. Before he leaves Maigret learns of a murder six years earlier that the condemned man and a pal had witnessed. The pair blackmailed the murderer until the pigeon flew the coop, the prisoner informers Inspector Maigret but then he clams up with only a vague hint of the location and none as to the identity of the killer. Maigret hangs about and figures out the location from some overheard words. He manages to ingratiate himself into an odd mix of city folk who take a weekly holiday at this village and its bar on the Seine. Inevitably Maigret puts it all together.

This Maigret story needs a couple of implausible coincidences to make it get started, but then it flows. Why is James plying Maigret with Pernods every day in Paris? Mado, the alluring wife of one of the gang, sleeps around and her husband seems to know, but does that have anything to do with the murder(s)? The same cuckolded husband is in debt up to his eyeballs. Plausible suspects abound. This one kept me up late to get to the finish. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Classic Maigret
A great Maigret story. Lots of detailed imagery as Maigret soaks up the atmosphere and lives of the group of people that send weekends at the Bar on the Seine

5-0 out of 5 stars Maigret mingles with the not-so-bad guys
I read this little novel under the influence of cold germs, and let me assure you, Maigret is just the ticket when you're feeling weak and feverish. Immediately you're immersed in an atmosphere as soothing as a warm bath. No car chases or shoot-outs here, just the unsettling sensation of watching and waiting for something criminal to be revealed within a group of friends whose lives seem boringly respectable.

In this book Maigret loses most of his holiday observing the revels and recreations of others. More than one good man is brought down by the rather banal femme fatale.

Inspector Maigret has a curious compassion for criminals whose misdeeds arise from tawdry affairs, poorly managed finances or misguided youth. We see interesting examples of this in The Bar on The Seine.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Enjoyable Classic
According to NPR commentators, Wikipedia editors, and book jacket copy-writers, Georges Simenon was one of the most influential authors of the 20th century. However, even without this quorum's endorsement, Simenon was unarguably prolific: his oeuvre includes over 200 novels, additional hundreds of novellas, and reams of pulp fiction penned under a variety of pseudonyms.

Simenon is best known for his works featuring the elegantly intellectual Inspector Maigret. According to People magazine, "Maigret ranks with Holmes and Poirot in the pantheon of fictional detective immortals." Where he stacks up against the holistic Dirk Gently is for the reader to decide.

The Bar on the Seine has a number of qualities that are endearing to any wannabe member of the modern literati. Firstly, it was written in French. This is nice, because it allows the reader to embrace multiculturalism without having to learn another language. It also provides an opportunity to talk about translation, which is bound to impress someone as long as the venue is right. (Think non-franchise coffee bar, used bookstore, or vegetarian bistro.) From here, it's easy to segue into a discussion about John Ciardi's verse interpretation of Dante's Inferno. Oooooh, literature!

Second: it's short! Like, morning commute short. There just aren't that many bona-fide classics about which one can say, "Oh yes! I read that this morning. Watson's translation was a tad dry, but satisfying nonetheless."

Finally and most importantly, The Bar on the Seine is a good story. It is gritty, layered, and above all human. The book moves swiftly, yet maintains an overarching sense of connectedness that tempers the plot's rapid pace. The hero Maigret is simultaneously anxious and aloof: he floats through the tale like a leaf on a river - sometimes serene, sometimes turbulent, but always moving. Ultimately, it is this motion that's responsible for the work's appeal.

5-0 out of 5 stars Evocative gem
"The Bar on the Seine" is an early Inspector Maigret mystery and a very tale story indeed!The story itself--the investigation of a six-year old murder that leads to a second killing as Maigret skeptically begins a look at the earlier crime--is well told and keeps the reader turning pages until the end.But along the way, the details of daily life in Paris and the social interactions of Parisians are presented in such specific detail and so convincingly that it is like reading a newspaper of the period.

"The Bar" is a wonderful small novel and a terrific read.This book is part of a Penguin reprint of some of the Maigret stories (of which there are 75 novels and many stories).I will be among many who will attempt to read them all. ... Read more

7. The Widow (New York Review Books Classics)
by Georges Simenon
Paperback: 108 Pages (2008-03-25)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$7.04
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Asin: 1590172612
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The Widow is the story of two outcasts and their fatal encounter. One is the widow herself, Tati. Still young, she’s never had an easy time of it, but she’s not the kind to complain. Tati lives with her father-in-law on the family farm, putting up with his sexual attentions, working her fingers to the bone, improving the property and knowing all the time that her late husband’s sister is scheming to kick her out and take the house back.

The other is a killer. Just out of prison and in search of a new life, Jean meets up with Tati, who hires him as a handyman and then takes him to bed. Things are looking up, at least until Jean falls hard for the girl next door.

The Widow was published in the same year as Camus’ The Stranger, and André Gide judged it the superior book. It is Georges Simenon’s most powerful and disturbing exploration of the bond between death and desire. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Nasty, brutish, and short
This novel, published the same year as The Stranger and eerily similar, is more psychologically astute and more worthy of reading twice.Simenon creates a pastoral idyll with subtle hints of deep dischord, then builds effects until you know something terrible is going to happen, and sustains and builds this suspense until at last there is murder... on the next to last page.

4-0 out of 5 stars "[G]oing on to a narrow place
where there was no way to turn aside either to the right hand or to the left." Numbers 22:26

Georges Simenon was nothing if not prolific in both his literary and public life. Born in Belgium in 1903, Simenon turned out hundreds of novels. Simenon's obsession with writing caused him to break off an affair (he was prolific in this area of his life as well) with the celebrated Josephine Baker in Paris when he could only write twelve novels in the twelve month period in which they were involved. Although best known for his Inspector Maigret detective novels, Simenon also wrote over a hundred novels that he referred to as `romans durs' (literally "hard novels"). NYRB Books is reissuing Simenon's hard novels. "The Widow" is their latest release.NYRB chooses its Simenons wisely."The Widow" is a fine book.

I've sometimes thought of the arc of a person's life as one that consists of a series of narrowing options.On the day we are born the options available to us seem limitless. But the decisions made for us and the decisions we make every day serve to winnow out our options. It struck me, as I read "The Widow" that a typical Simenon story presents us with characters whose options seem so constrained to them that their actions, often desperate and violent, appear inevitable. "The Widow" is no exception.Tati is a middle-aged widow, living in a small village in a house owned by her aged father-in-law.She has clawed her way up to this not quite middle-class existence and will endure hard work and the infrequent sexual demands of the father-in-law to maintain her rightful place in this home.Jean, is a murderer, recently-released from a French prison.Unlike Tati, he comes from a solid, relatively wealthy local family.They meet on a bus and Tati decides without hesitation that Jean will provide her with help around the farm. Jean sees Tati as someone who can provide him with food, shelter, and a bedtime companion.This mutually beneficial relationship works out fine for a while, until Jean discovers the attractive young girl (Tati's niece) that lives on the adjacent property.From that point on the relationship between Jean and Tati takes a turn for the worse and continues to deteriorate.In a very real sense the options available to Jean and Tati are so dramatically narrowed in such a short span of time that each feels that his/her actions are inevitable, almost commanded by fate. The conclusion, while predictable, is powerful not because of the actions that bring about that conclusion but because of the overpowering sense of fate that drives the actions.Reading "The Widow" was like watching a storm at sea. You can see it a long ways off, you know it is coming, yet when it arrives it still manages to knock the wind out of you.

Paul Theroux's "Introduction" was interesting and on point. Theoroux points out the comparisons often made between Simenon and his contemporary, Albert Camus.Their writing shares much in terms of the sense of alienation and despair that infuses their characters. Therouxnotes that Simenon never seemed to suffer the agony of the writer and believed that the ease with which words spilled out of him and on to paper were held against him by the literary establishment.He didn't suffer enough for his writing to be accorded the highest accolade.I tend to agree with that point.I don't believe, however, thatSimenon's writing surpassed that of Camus. I do think that the comparison itself is valid and that each is good enough to be discussed in the company of the other.

"The Widow" is a fine example of the craft of Georges Simenon. Highly recommended. L. Fleisig

3-0 out of 5 stars "Vocation of Unhappiness"
NYRB is reissuing many of the so-called, "romans durs" ("hard novels") written in haste but with great aplomb by the immensely prolific (400 plus novels) Georges Simenion.Obvious parallels exist between this novel and it's contemporary, "The Stranger", written by Albert Camus.In fact, Andre Gide found it the better of the two novels, which (to the chagrin of Simenon) despite that endorsement, failed to win the Nobel Prize in Literature for him.

This brief novel is beautifully written.For example, "...the summer was spoiled.Every two days, every three days at most, a storm rumbled in the distance without even bringing a cooling shower.It could be felt far off in the air, somewhere in the direction of Morvan.The atmosphere was heavy.The rays of the sun, suddenly, seemed painted in oils."It also has the air of objective detachment that permeates, "The Stranger".As in that book, the protagonist of this one, Jean Passerat-Monnoyeur, commits a crime (in the closing pages, he murders "the widow", Mrs Couderc), but has little apparent motive;he, in essence, just "felt like it", in a phrase.The murder could not even pass as an impulse.There are implications of "predestination" throughout the book which become grating, as if Simenon was attempting to interject psychoanalytic elements into the otherwise spare story.

Unlike Camus' novel, however, the denouement seems clumsy and unexplained.Simeonon drops portentious hints of forthcoming violence, such as Jean repeatedly mentally reviewing elements of the French criminal code on murder;he's been there before, having killed a man over gaming loses.The second crime, the murder of Madame Couderc,could be construed as having been vaguely provoked by her jealousy over his dalliance with a neighbor girl.Because it is abrupt and therefore hard to fathom and given that it is not the culmination of a series of events, but rather a tenuous extension from them (beforehand, the jealous nagging was received with equanimity), the reader is left with the impression that Simenon was ready to move to another novel and simply chose to end this one with a jarring crime.

In summary, this is a good novel, certainly on par with his others in NYRB.Unlike Gide, I did not consider it first rank. ... Read more

8. Maigret in Holland (Maigret Mystery Series)
by Georges Simenon
Paperback: 180 Pages (2003-06-16)
list price: US$8.00 -- used & new: US$46.12
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156028522
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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On his latest case, Maigret finds himself in the town of Delfzijl investigating the murder of a teacher.He is presented with two clues-a sailor's cap in the bathtub and a Manila cigar butt-and a gaggle of suspects, including a flirtatious farmer's daughter, an angry lawyer, a larcenous ship owner, an unaccountably frightened cadet, and a pompous criminologist with a revolver. The Inspector, in turn, is preoccupied with a suspicious pathway lit by a lighthouse beam, which leads him to wonder if this is the kind of spot where secret lovers might be discovered...

Maigret is a registered trademark of the Estate of Georges Simenon.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Too good to be true
The book opens in a tidy little Dutch town full of serene people. Conrad Popinga, an instructor of cadets, has been unaccountably murdered. Because a Frenchman is being detained as a witness, or perhaps a suspect, Maigret is dispatched to the scene.

Maigret slowly but surely sniffs out the passions that have been smoldering beneath the unbelievable calm of this picture-perfect community.

Almost everyone has a motive - and there are too many clues!

"You don't think...?" someone says to Maigret.

"I don't think anything," Maigret replies. It's always reassuring when we encounter this signature phrase, because we know the Chief Superintendent is absorbing impressions, pondering personalities - anything but being rational!

No one will thank Maigret for solving the case, but the reader has plenty to be thankful for - full-bodied characters, wry exchanges and amusing descriptions of the locale.

4-0 out of 5 stars Evocative small gem
"Maigret in Holland" is a spare, neat and small package of naturalist writing that plunks the archtypical ParisianInspector Maigret down in the heart of northern Holland, where everything is orderly, quiet and well-mannered.Except that a violent murder has been committed in the midst of this ordered tranquility, and a French citizen visiting the locale has been implicated.

The strengths of this small novel are the author's unrivaled talent for presenting a credible physical backdrop (the reader can literally see the environment), and for the interactions and conversations between the story's characters, which always dive well beyond the surface.

This is a fine crime story by one of the great masters of the genre.It is quite leisurely in its pace compared tocontemporary crime/action novels, but ultimately it's an excellent read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Among the earliest Maigret stories.Unusual Locale.
Today, in the small port of Delfzijl in north Holland stands a bronze statute of Inspector Maigret, commemorating this location as the literary birthplace of Georges Simenon's remarkable detective. According to local legend (which some question), Simenon wrote his first story involving Maigret, titled The Case of Peter the Lett, in 1929 while residing at Delfzijl aboard the Ostrogoth, a small barge.

Regardless, this particular story, Maigret in Holland (published 1931, firstpublished in English in 1940), does indeed take place in Delfzijl. A visiting, pedantic French sociology professor, Jean Duclos, finds himself accused of murder. Inspector Maigret is posted from Paris to oversee the situation.

Maigret is in unfamiliar territory, one with sabots - wooden shoes, bargees - barge men, colliers - ships for transporting coal, and bollards - posts around which are fastened moorings. The community is small, close knit, and not especially welcoming to strangers, certainly not French inspectors. Unexpectedly, he almost immediately is commandeered to help with the birth of a purebred Frisian calf.Worse yet, many of the key individuals that Maigret wishes to question do not speak French!

But this is classic Maigret; he bides his time, not jumping to conclusions. He builds a case through routine police methods and astute psychological observations.As with most Maigret mysteries, the story is more about characters and psychology than the puzzle itself.

My copy of Maigret in Holland is a 1994 Harvest Book edition, translated by Geoffrey Sainsbury.It is larger than a standard paperback, about 8 inches by 5 inches.

4-0 out of 5 stars Maigret in an Alien Land
A prominent French criminologist lecturing in Holland is accussed of murder.As a courtesy, the French Police send Jules Maigret in an unofficial capacity to assist in the investigation.With his usual brilliance, Maigret begins to unravel the mystery.

Simenon's Inspector Maigret is a deeply Parisian character.He is at his best, exploring the nooks and crannies of Paris.In this novel, Simenon plucks Maigret out of Paris and places him in rural Holland.Whereas, Paris is rich in seedy atmosphere, tidy Holland is its exact opposite.Maigret fans will enjoy seeng him operate in a foreign context.I would not recommend this book as the first book for Maigret novice.It is better to be first exposed to him in his element.

5-0 out of 5 stars What an atmosphere !
As usually, this Simenon's novel is very close to painting !

I love Holland, and this novel remind me some Vermeer's (of Delft) paintings.

And the story is excellent with a lot of empathy and psychology. ... Read more

9. Maigret and the Fortuneteller
by Georges Simenon
 Paperback: 140 Pages (1990-05)
list price: US$5.95 -- used & new: US$19.89
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Asin: 0156551632
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Guided by his intuition and his special talent for putting himself in other people's shoes, Inspector Maigret plows through a frustrating maze of seemingly unconnected suspects and only the most fragmentary clues to find the murderer of fortuneteller Mademoiselle Jeanne. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of Maigret's best
Most of the many Superintendent Maigret stories are excellent, but "Maigret and the Fortune Teller" stands a bit above the average in its plot and characters.The short novel begins with the murder of a sometime fortuneteller whose prospective death is reported to Maigret and the Police Judiciare in advance of the event.The crime investigation leads the estimable Superintendent to number of strange characters who all seem up to dodgy enterprises, but nothing related to the murder.Over time, Maigret connects the dots in one of the more original, interlocking crime stories that you will come across in the genre.As with the best of the Maigret stories, the conclusion of the book is not clear until the last page or two, and there are some zingers held in reserve til the finish.

"Fortuneteller" was published in 1944, but as was his habit, prolific author Georges Simenon makes no reference to WWII, the German occupation or any other events of the moment in this novel.The action all takes place in the well-explored neighborhoods of Paris, and as always, the look and feel of the place is skillfully evoked by Simenon.There is Gallic wit and irony interwoven throughout this book.The bourgeoisie are skewered as is often the case, and sympathy for the disadvantaged is clearly expressed.A very satisfying read and highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars A tangled plot with multiple culprits
I thought this would be a story about a fortuneteller, but the teller of fortunes is very quickly murdered, making way for a quirky cast of characters engaged in all sorts of mischief.

As often happens in Maigret stories, the poor people are much nicer than the rich people, and Maigret shows considerable compassion for the weak minded.

I can't bear to reveal any of the plot and its wonderfully fragmentary clues. The reader should have the fun of discovering the several crimes and misdemeanors that led to the fortuneteller's death. ... Read more

10. Maigret's Pipe: Seventeen Stories (A Harvest Book)
by Georges Simenon
Paperback: 336 Pages (1994-10-14)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$5.54
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156551462
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Seventeen stories feature Simenon's dauntless detective as he works on some baffling cases both from his base--Paris police headquarters on the Quai des Ortevres--and throughout the provinces. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars What's to say?
Simenon's Maigret series is a classic in detective fiction. The stories are translated from French and give an insight into the French police system, in particular, the judicial police (police judiciaries), the detective bureau, which is responsible for law enforcement and investigation of crime. They work directly for and are supervised by the judiciary and are independent of the police, though they do work together. There is also a DVD series starring Michael Gamgon (Dumbledore) The Maigret Collection

5-0 out of 5 stars 17 views of Maigret
Simenon has a genius for short fiction. Even his novels are short, for he believed that a book should be consumable in one sitting. The best of these stories are as clever, whimsical and richly told as his novels.

"I gave up having ideas a long time ago," says Maigret in one of these delightful stories. "I just go about sniffing. What I'm waiting for is the significant fact which never fails to emerge."

In these stories we get to observe Maigret in a satisfying variety of moods and situations: suspiciously lurking around a neighborhood like a prowler; growling in a downpour, the brim of his bowler hat full of water; stuffing his still lighted pipe into his pocket in a tense moment; forgetting a vital clue the next morning after too many hot toddies; affectionately teasing Madame Maigret.

I particularly enjoyed the stories set in Maigret's retirement. We see him padding about blissfully in his tomato patch, lazily enjoying the heat-haze - when an insistent visitor pulls him back into the world of criminal investigation.

And as always, Simenon shows his total mastery of atmosphere in even the simplest narrative, for example, the disturbing perfection of the house of the lawyer with three lovely daughters. This beautifully written piece is a gem as flawless as the lawyer's décor.

I read every other Maigret I could find before ordering this collection. It's a fitting finish to a total emersion in Maigret. Then again, it might be equally appropriate as an introduction to Maigret.

4-0 out of 5 stars Delightfully quirky
Several Maigret mysteries by Georges Simenon appeared a few years ago on PBS's Mystery.Played by Michael Gambon, the Paris detective seemed quirky and brilliant, sort of a mix between Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, with a bit of heartlessness mixed in.This collection of stories featuring Maigret are delightful with a sort of gentleness that does not fit into today's world.

Taking place in the 1940s, the 17 stories bespeak of a time most of us are unfamiliar with, and a very French time at that.Maigret is very politically incorrect by today's standards.He smokes a pipe constantly (the theft of which is the subject of one of the stories).He isn't averse to hitting a suspect, or grilling another for half a day or more (as with the young woman from the Etoile du Nord).Murder is at the center of the cases, sometimes grisly (drowning, hanging, knifing), but never just blood and gore.

Maigret is moody and sometimes gets very angry.His ego can be bruised, as when his wife gets a bit ahead of him (in "Madame Maigret's Admirer)."Maigret might even rest in the victim's bed (Two Bodies on a Barge).

The collection includes a couple of novellas, but most are short stories and all are quickly read.You come away from Simenon's world feeling that if you were in trouble, you'd want Maigret on your side. ... Read more

11. Tropic Moon (New York Review Books Classics)
by Georges Simenon, Marc Romano, Norman Rush
Paperback: 152 Pages (2005-09-01)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$6.96
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Asin: 159017111X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A young Frenchman, Joseph Timar, travels to Gabon carrying a letter of introduction from an influential uncle. He wants work experience; he wants to see the world. But once in the oppressive heat and glare of the equator, Timar doesn't know what to do with himself, and no one seems inclined to help except Adèle, the hotel owner's wife, who takes him to bed one day and rebuffs him the next, leaving him sick with desire. But then, in the course of a single night, Adèle's husband dies and a black servant is shot, and Timar is sure that Adèle is involved. He'll cover for the crime if she'll do what he wants. The fix is in, but Timar can't even begin to imagine how deep. Tropic Moon is an incomparable picture of degeneracy and corruption in a colonial outpost. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Black
Simenon, the author of over 100 stories featuring Inspector Maigret, did not abandon his skills as a crime writer when writing his serious novels, or "romans durs," of which TROPIC MOON (1933) is one of the first. There is the same laconic straightforward style, the same ability to capture the atmosphere of a setting in a few sentences, and the same interest in those dark areas that lie outside the law. There is a murder here, quite early on in the book, but Simenon's focus is not on who committed it -- that becomes clear well before the end -- but on the psychological nightmare that swirls around it. As the word "dur" (hard) might indicate, this is a hard-boiled novel with a vengeance. Simenon here is the literary cousin of writers of noir fiction such as Dashiell Hammett and (a little later) Raymond Chandler, but his blackness goes beyond being a mere setting for the book; it becomes its principal subject.

The setting is Gabon, a former French colony in West Africa. Joseph Timar, a young man from the French provinces, arrives to take up a job with a timber company. While attempting to discover whether the job in fact exists, he stays at a small hotel in Libreville, the capital, where he falls into bed with the hotelier's wife, Adèle. When her husband dies of bilharzia, Joseph enters into a relationship with Adèle that is held together as much by lust and implicit blackmail as by any business agreement, and journeys with her upriver to a timber concession in the interior. That trajectory will be reversed in the last third of the book, bringing them both back to Libreville for the harrowing climax, and sending Timar home to France a shattered victim of his former innocence.

The parallels with Conrad's HEART OF DARKNESS are surely deliberate. Both books are set in African colonies; both feature young protagonists who enter the country full of hope and leave in disarray; even the journey upriver, with its stop at a native settlement along the way, makes one think of the earlier novel. But there is no mad Kurtz at the end; the horror that Joseph Timar finds lies inside himself, his companion, and by implication in all the white colonists. For Simenon is as strong as Conrad before him in denouncing colonialism. The governor, police chief, and other white officials whom Joseph visits in Libreville treat him graciously on account of his uncle, a distinguished French politician, yet they have no hesitation in closing ranks against him once their way of life is threatened. But Joseph changes too, most obviously in his rapid descent into alcoholism, but morally as well. At the end of his first week, Joseph accompanies a group of loggers on a sexual debauch exploiting native women, though he holds back from active participation. In a parallel scene later in the palindromic structure of the book, Joseph will not hold back; although his motives are different, the moral result will be the same.

Norman Rush, in his unusually strong introduction to the NYRB edition of the novel (one which can safely be read in advance), not only places the book within the colonialism of its time but also shows its contemporary relevance to the faded dream of an independent Africa. He also compares TROPIC MOON to the novels that Graham Greene would later write in colonial settings, such as THE HEART OF THE MATTER, and I agree; although Simenon is grittier and Greene more nuanced, their atmosphere is much the same. Yet when Rush suggests that Simenon was not interested in morality, I disagree. Certainly he does not have the explicit Catholic theology of Greene. Yet Joseph Timar struggles with his conscience as much as any Greene hero, but in a fevered state, only half aware of what is at stake. At the climax of the book, in a torment of delirium, Joseph finally takes a moral stand. But we never know if it makes the slightest difference; if there is a God in Simenon's French West Africa, he is not in evidence. That is what makes the book so truly black.

5-0 out of 5 stars Heat of the night
Reading an early Simenon mystery today is as much entertainment as it is a trip into the past.This in especially true for Tropic Moon ("Coup de lune"), originally published in 1933,one of three novels set in Africa. It was also an early example of Simenon's "romans durs" - psychological dramas rather than a Maigret-type detective story that Simenon has been famous for.Having traveled and worked in several countries in Africa for much of 1932, Simenon's personal exposure to the harsh realities of French colonialism are, without doubt, manifest in this brief, intense, yet remarkable and very readable book.

The title of the novel hints at the story's intricacy. A term made up in analogy to "coup de soleil" (sunstroke), "coup de lune" suggests "moon stroke", inviting a comparison between the two in terms of the debilitating intensity on those exposed to it. The "victim" here is Joseph Timar, twenty-three years old, arriving in Gabon (then part of French Equatorial Africa) for a vacation - of sorts - from his bourgeois life in France. He is to manage his uncle's timber business set upcountry from the capital Libreville. But things don't turn out as planned. With a few sentences in the opening paragraphs of the novel, Simenon insinuates that Timar's stay will be anything but a vacation. While there is nothing tangible to justify the young man's apprehension - other than being alone in Africa for the first time - an atmosphere of anxiety and unease is established around the protagonist, as he stumbles innocently on an eerily artificial, yet very real, miserable colonialist community.

With transport upriver not ready for some time, Timar becomes increasingly entangled with thegroup of regular patrons of the "Central", the only hotel in town, and Adele, the seductive wife of its owner. With a few precise strokes, Simenon characterized this utterly bored, crude, and lowly collection of expatriates, whose main relaxation consists of alcohol, card games and the odd orgy with local women. While Africans are primarily seen as part of the backdrop, supplying services of various kinds, Simenon does not shy away from describing in some detail the insulting treatment that the Gabonese suffer by this group of whites. The overwhelming impression that the author expertly conveys is the dreariness, squalor and the desolation of the place. Slowly it dawns on Timar, who for the most part remains a naïve outsider, that the local white officials are no better than his drinking and gambling companions. When Thomas, the hotel's young African "boy" is murdered, the investigation is undertaken listlessly. While suspicions as to the culprit are rife, nobody really wants to act on them.

A major element amplifying the growing malaise experienced by Timar, is the sweltering heat of the tropical sun, that is stifling any initiative. This is a recurring theme throughout the novel. Simenon aptly employs it to reveal his hero's mental state as he goes through different stages of emotional upheaval and physical illness.

Timar's voyage upcountry, when it finally occurs, is not at all what he had anticipated. Could this be a new beginning? As dengue fever takes hold of him and he floats between reality and hallucination, events and context come into a new perspective and, for the first time, he sees more clearly what has been happening around him. Also for the first time, he experiences Africa and Africans directly and intimately. He is experiences "an immense feeling of peace, ...but peace tinged with sadness". While he cannot identify a focus his newfound "tenderness", "...it seemed to him that he was on the verge of understanding this land of Africa, which had provoked him so far to nothing but an unhealthy exaltation."

This new sense of freedom, understanding and confidence is bound to set him on an inevitable collision course with the white community in Libreville. Is there a compromise possible and what can Timar do? Simenon is unswerving in tone and perspective as he concludes the book consistent with the colonial reality of the time. Even after more than seventy years, Simenon's astute observations on French colonialism and his underlying harsh critique of the treatment of indigenous people and environments, are still relevant. Parallels to more recent historical circumstances come easily to mind. Thanks to the new NYRB edition and translation a wider audience have the opportunity to absorb this evocative story. [Friederike Knabe]

4-0 out of 5 stars Dark as the African Continent Itself
The prolific Georges Simenon wrote a number of roman durs, or hard novels, which have more of a noir edge to them than his traditional mysteries.TROPIC MOON is a good introduction to them as we follow young Joseph Timar to Africa.In search of job experience and maybe a bit of adventure, he quickly finds himself in way too deep.He almost immediately sleeps with the hotel owner's wife, the morally ambiguous Adele, and quickly thereafter finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation in which everyone else seems to know what is going on while leaving him in the blank.

TROPIC MOON, however, is more than just a crime novel.It is a raw depiction of conflict.After learning, in a rather cold and even humiliating way, that Adele has slept with almost every male character in the book, Timar becomes more and more obsessed with her, especially driven as she appears to be somehow implicated in the murder.Adele walks the tightrope of trying to draw Timar closer personally while seeming to protect him from the dark underbelly of the conspiracy.

This drama is set against the larger picture of colonial Africa, in which whites and blacks live in two different realities.It is a world of moral confusion and comes to the foreground as the details of Adele's involvement become more and more focused.The ending, although a bit weak, leaves Timar in the same state of confusion as the African continent on which the action unfolds.TROPIC MOONis a quick and worthwhile read. ... Read more

12. Maigret Et I'homme Du Banc (French Edition)
by Georges Simenon
Paperback: 190 Pages (2001-03-07)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$7.78
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Asin: 2253142344
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13. Maigret and the Flemish Shop
by Georges Simenon
 Paperback: 167 Pages (1990-05)
list price: US$5.95 -- used & new: US$114.99
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Asin: 0156551187
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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When a lovelorn factory girl with an illegitimate child disappears, the townspeople believe Joseph Peeters, the suspected father of her child, committed murder to free himself to marry another. Maigret must use his instincts to disprove Joseph's alibi or explain Germaine's disappearance. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Maigret is becalmed
The Peeters family is accused of murdering a young woman who had a child by the son of the family, Joseph Peeters. They ask Maigret to help clear them of suspicion.

He arrives at the border town of Givet in a totally unofficial capacity. The phlegmatic manners of the Flemish family, and the perfect calm and cleanliness of their home and shop, seem to mesmerize Maigret. Will he penetrate their secrets - and the motives of the townspeople who hate them?

Maigret does some unexpected things in this novel, including warding off an attacker, a rare display of physical fitness!

Simenon had some Flemish ancestry himself. It's interesting to ponder that in relation to the peculiar atmosphere in the Peeters household. ... Read more

14. Act of Passion
by Georges Simenon
Paperback: 248 Pages (2011-06-14)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$10.08
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Asin: 1590173856
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For forty years Charles Alavoine sleepwalks through his life. Obedient to his domineering mother's wishes, he trains as a doctor, takes a plain unassuming wife, opens a medical practice in a quiet country town, and settles into an existence of impeccable bourgeois conformity. After his first wife dies in labor, he remarries; children arrive; he becomes a family man and a cornerstone of the community. And yet at unguarded moments Charles is haunted by a sense of emptiness and futility, by the suspicion that real life is elsewhere. Looking for answers in his past, he spends more and more time recalling his depressive, suicidal father, and a youthful rendezvous with a prostitute who for a few hours gave him “the sensation of infinity.”

Then, one night at a provincial railway station, laden with Christmas presents for his wife and children, he encounters Martine, an enigmatic young woman helplessly adrift in the world. Their ensuing liaison precipitates a spiritual awakening in Alavoine-and sets the stage for his tragic disintegration. Like Camus's The Fall, Georges Simenon's thriller is at once a devastating personal confession and an indictment of modern society's empty and deadening moral codes. ... Read more

15. Maigret on the Riviera
by Georges Simenon
Paperback: 140 Pages (1989-10-16)
list price: US$6.00 -- used & new: US$45.06
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Asin: 0156551586
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Maigret must discover who killed a poverty-stricken Australian in this deft, psychologically fascinating story of men who kick over the traces--and of men who don't. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

3-0 out of 5 stars Murder in a warm climate
One of Simenon's short Maigret-on-the-road novels in which the Superintendent of the Paris Judiciary Police is dispatched to Antibes to discreetly investigate the murder of an Australian who has had connections to the French Intelligence Agency but who has been more recently living the life of a social dropout i.e. women, booze and relaxation in the sun. Maigret, also finds himself succumbing to the languid southern climate and finds it hard to concentrate on the crime.Eventually, however, he finds that he is dealing with four women who were in orbit around the murder victim, but who had no obvious motives for killing him.As is often the case in Simenon stories, the basest of human motives proves to be the reason for the crime--in this case, one of passion.

This short tale is loaded with red (and pink) herrings, moving pretty slowly toward denouement.The author's narrative is as evocative of place as always, and the reader really gets the feel of the Cote d'Azur and its seductive and corrosive effect on ambition and energy.At the same time, it's very fuzzy on time period--written in 1940, but some references don't match the date clearly.The later translation may have been purposely updated.Perhaps not the strongest of Simeon's many Maigret books, but entertaining enough.

5-0 out of 5 stars A breezy little masterpiece
It's a love story and a drinking story both. Simenon has a positive genius for transforming scenes of boozy low life into a comic mix of poetry and passion.

Maigret has been sent to the Côte d'Azur to investigate the stabbing to death of William Brown. The greatest tact is required because Brown in some unspecified way has important connections.

Brown was living on the Riviera in a modest villa with a woman and her mother. In addition to this unsavory relationship, he leads a second secret life, for a few days every month, drinking himself into oblivion at the Liberty Bar.

Liberty is something Brown seems to have pursued relentlessly since he left his hard-working family and their vast sheep farms in Australia.

Maigret uncovers plenty of suspicious characters: the two dubious ladies who form Brown's untidy household, the two delightfully disreputable women who drink with him, the sleazy casino waiter, the coldly efficient Brown son visiting from Australia.

It so happens that William Brown looked a bit like Maigret, a moving discovery for the chief inspector. Maigret, like Brown, is hard pressed to take anything seriously in this land of shimmering sunshine and mimosa-scented breezes.

I wish the present-day writers of bestsellers would study Simenon. Every sentence of this little book is perfect. The plot is sparely told, the all-too-human characters deeply understood. ... Read more

16. Red Lights (New York Review Books Classics)
by Georges Simenon
Paperback: 144 Pages (2006-07-18)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$2.55
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Asin: 1590171934
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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It is Friday evening before Labor Day weekend. Americans are hitting the highways in droves; the radio crackles with warnings of traffic jams and crashed cars. Steve Hogan and his wife, Nancy, have a long drive ahead—from New York City to Maine, where their children are in camp. But Steve wants a drink before they go, and on the road he wants another. Soon, exploding with suppressed fury, he is heading into that dark place in himself he calls “the tunnel.” When Steve stops for yet another drink, Nancy has had enough. She leaves the car.

On a bender now, Steve makes a friend: Sid Halligan, an escapee from Sing Sing. Steve tells Sid
all about Nancy. Most men are scared, Steve thinks, but not Sid.

The next day, Steve wakes up on the side of the road. His car has a flat, his money is gone, and there’s one more thing still left for him to learn about Nancy, Sid Halligan, and himself. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars road to freedom
I enjoyed this novel by Simenon. It's a story about the search for authenticity and freedom, and how it involves facing up to one's own pain. The bare and honest prose suits the subject matter extremely well. As I finished reading the book, I was reminded of the work of another favourite writer, the American Elizabeth Hardwick.

3-0 out of 5 stars Give This Story the Green Light
This book was originally published as a novella entitled "The Hitchhiker," and is included in Simenon's "An American Omnibus," a selection of four of his stories set in America where he lived for a decade, away from the French settings we usually associate with his mysteries. Actually, it's not even a novella. It is more of a long short story. You'll probably be able to read it in one sitting.

The edition of the story that I'm reviewing was translated from the French by Norman Denny and is perhaps not the best version. There are little mistakes. For example, the nurses in a city Hospital are still referred to as "Sisters," as they would be on the Continent. And what we call the "first floor," is elevated, European-style, to what we call the "second floor." But there is a more general faltering quality to the conversations that makes them sound somewhat unrealistic and stilted.

"Red Lights" will probably hold your interest though. Even before the threat of a killer-on-the-loose is introduced, you might get a couple of shocks from the narrative - you might cringe. The story was written in 1955, not that long ago in the larger scheme of things. But it's amazing to read how much society has changed in those intervening decades. The main characters drink copiously, then drive; they chain-smoke; they do all this without suffering any overall societal disapproval.

More important, there's an almost eerie homogeneity revealed about the lives of the people who counted in the action then. There's none of the close-grained diversity we have come to think of as the hallmark of American society. In the opening pages of the book, husband and wife become part of a mass Labor Day exodus from New York City. Everyone is streaming northward on the highways to pick up children who were stowed out of the way for the summer at some generic "Camp Walla Walla." I was reminded of the setting for the movie "The Seven Year Itch" in which New York becomes almost a ghost town during the hot summer months, with children away at camp and a lot of parents tending to them there. But unlike "The Itch," this story is no comedy. It's deadly serious. The reader is soon plunged into taut speculation: Where's the killer? When will he appear? Or has he already appeared in an all-too-familiar form?

Mostly though, it's the heartfelt quality of the story's ending that makes it memorable and worthwhile, and that raises it above the run-of-the-mill thriller.

4-0 out of 5 stars Hard Case
I was pleasantly surprised by this noir gem from NYRB classics. This was my first exposure to Simenon, the famously prolific creator of Inspector Maigret.
Red Lights is the story of a regular couple from New York, Steve and Nancy Hogan, who become fatefully entwined with Sid, a hardened criminal; a hard case. As they prepare to embark on a trip to retrieve their children from a Maine summer camp, Steve finds himself going where he calls "into the tunnel", an imaginary zone where he can shake out all his sillies (which means: consume a lot of rye whiskey). Unfortunately in the process, he loses Nancy, then proceeds to delve only deeper into the dark side of life.
***Spoilerphobes Beware***
Over the course of this short novel, in which there is a lot a drinking, driving, and overall criminal activity, the troubled couple lose each other, suffer a bit, and then finally find each other (in more than one way). This is all thanks to Sid, the escaped con, who I'm sure was happy to help.
I expect to read many more of these "romans dur", as Simenon liked to call them, since there are many other titles available now from NYRB Classics. Highly recommended especially to crime noir fans.
4.5 stars

5-0 out of 5 stars It's quarter to three, there's no one in the place
Except you and me
So set 'em' up Joe, I got a little story
I think you should know
We're drinking my friend, to the end
Of a brief episode
Make it one for my baby
And one more for the road

Frank Sinatra's haunting signature song, "One for My Baby, (And One More for the Road) is an eerily suitable theme song for Georges Simenon's ode to a late night drinker, "Red Lights".

Simenon was prolific; he wrote hundreds of novels, most notably his Inspector Maigret mysteries. But Simenon's best work in my opinion can be found in what he called his "romans durs" ("hard stories").In those stores you typically find a middle-aged male, leading a middle class life.In each story the protagonist hits a bump in the road (often of his own making) and this slight bump takes him off the level, boring road of respectability and puts him on a wild downhill road to the depths of darkness. "Red Lights" puts the protagonist, Steve Hogan, on a wild road, both literally and figuratively.

It is 1955 and the Friday of the Labor-Day Weekend. Steve and Nancy Hogan meet up at their local bar in Manhattan for a drink before setting off to Maine to pick their children up from Summer Camp. Steve wants another drink or two before he goes.He can sense he is heading to one of his periodic `tunnels' a dark place he finds within himself whenever he's had a bit too much to drink.His resentments, particularly toward his wife, come to the surface as they find themselves stuck in holiday traffic. He pulls over to a roadside bar (this was before the days when the interstate highway system covered the country) and tells Nancy he's going in for a drink. She tells him she's not going to wait.Steve walks into the bar and both their lives are changed forever. Each spouse embarks on a separate journey through hell, Steve's a self-inflicted trip, and Nancy's one set in motion by Steve's drinking. Both Steve and Nancy are in for a horrifying ride.

Simenon's prose, particularly his narration of Steve's thoughts as he drinks the night away, is compelling.Simenon is no `rank sentimentalist' to be sure but in Red Lights he does introduce a concept not often seen in his "romans durs", hope.It is not a false hope but a hope based on a shared experience. Whatever the outcome, "Red Lights" did not ring false for me.It was a quick and compelling read with a story line that would make a suitable script for a Twilight Zone episode. (In fact, a movie based on the book but set in France was released in 2004).
As "Red Lights" ended, I could hear Sinatra's One for My Baby end as well:

Well that's how it goes, and Joe I know your gettin'
Anxious to close
Thanks for the cheer
I hope you didn't mind
My bending your ear
But this torch that I found, It's gotta be drowned
Or it's gonna explode
Make it one for my baby
And one more for the road
... Read more

17. Maigret Et la Vielle Dame (French Edition)
by Georges Simenon
Mass Market Paperback: 188 Pages (2000-06-14)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$7.74
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Asin: 2253149071
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18. A Man's Head (Inspector Maigret Mysteries)
by Georges Simenon
Paperback: 176 Pages (2006-07-25)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$4.74
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143037285
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Mystery legend Georges Simenon comes to Penguin with classic works in celebration of the iconic Inspector Maigret’s 75th anniversary

One of the world’s most successful crime writers, Georges Simenon has thrilled mystery lovers around the world since 1931 with his matchless creation Inspector Maigret. Seventy-five years later, the incomparable Maigret mysteries make their Penguin debut with three of his most compelling cases.

Set in the oppressively squalid streets of Paris, A Man’s Head features Simenon’s famed detective as he tracks a killer on the run, while the writer’s sharp prose evokes the atmosphere of Parisian luxury hotels, seedy bars, and dark alleys. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Convict Goes Free to Convict the Guilty?
Although not strictly speaking one of Georges Simenon's "psychological novels", Maigret's War of Nerves nonetheless explores the psychology of several characters. Detective Maigret arranges the `escape' from prison of a convicted killer that he helped put away in the first place. Maigret had become convinced of the defendant's guilt, but the evidence at trial had been overwhelming. In this 1940 work, Maigret places his well-established career at risk.

Maigret slowly unravels the mystery behind the true killer, but will it be enough to save the wrongly convicted man or Maigret's own reputation? Simenon leads the reader through an examination of the most basic and most extreme human motivations. Simenon wrote dozens of Maigret mysteries as well as other `romans durs'. Maigret's War of Nerves is one of his better efforts.

Note: A number of the Miagret books have been published under duplicate names. This book was also published As Maigret's War of Nerves. It would be useful if someone put together a definitive list of these duplicate titles.

5-0 out of 5 stars Maigret books!
Good mysteries, written better than most.IF you are a mystery reader (or Francophile) and haven't tried the pleasures of Georges Simenon, you have a lot to look forward to.

PLUS my books arrived fast and in excellent condition.


4-0 out of 5 stars Very nicely done.
Trivia:Several times in the book, the William Desmond Taylor murder is referred to.In one such instance, a magazine article on the Taylor case is quoted, although the specific source is not cited in the book.The article quoted is "I Know Who Killed Desmond Taylor" by Ed. C. King, in True Detective Mysteries, Oct. 1930, which has been reprinted in Taylorology #50.

4-0 out of 5 stars A man may lose his head...
Maigret does an audacious thing at the beginning of this book. He arranges for a condemned man to escape from his cell.

All the evidence points to the man's guilt, yet Maigret does not believe the simple fellow can be guilty of viciously stabbing to death a rich old lady and her companion. He didn't even know the victims, and he stole nothing from them.

What diabolical puppeteer is hiding behind the scenes, plotting events, contriving scenes and pulling everyone's strings?

This Maigret mystery is a fascinating study of how the warped personality of a killer can get under the skin of the investigator.

Simenon thought a novel should be concise enough to read in one sitting. I suggest reading A Man's Head in one sitting if you can, to experience fully the mounting tension of tracking down the killer.

4-0 out of 5 stars Bring me the head of Joseph Huertin
That is the cry when the condemned convict Joseph Huertin escapes from death row in a Parisian jail.Huertin had been tried and convicted of the brutal murder of a rich American widow and her maid.This escape would ordinarily be one for famed Inspector Maigret to investigate. However, it turns out that it was Maigret who placed the escape in motion. Maigret, who arrested Huertin in the first instance, has had doubts about his guilt. Huertin's mental skills are minimal but he didn't strike Maigret as someone, in the absence of any possible motive, who could plan and execute such a brutal pair of murders.Maigret has arranged for Huertin to escape in the hopes that Huertin will lead Maigret to the real killer.

For those not familiar with his work Georges Simenon was the author of over 100 Inspector Maigret mystery stories. They were immensely popular in the 1930s through the 1960s. Inspector Maigret stories also appeared in film and TV version. Simenon and Maigret seem to have fallen under the radar in recent decades but in recent years he seems to have been rediscovered by a new generation of mystery/detective story fans. Penguin Books has begun to reissue some of those Maigret mysteries and the New York Review of Books Press has reissued some of his `hard stories', stories that did not feature Inspector Maigret. Simenon's Inspector Maigret Mystery, "A Man's Head" was an exciting book that lived up to the expectations of its opening chapter.

"A Man's Head" does not stray from the 20th-century detective formula. There is a murder or series of murders, a number of possible suspects, and a detective or investigator tasked with putting the pieces together and solving the crime. So fans of the detective genre will find the form and structure of the book `comfortable'.In this instance, Maigret traipses around Paris and environs on Huertin's tail while finding clues and resisting pressure from the press and his superiors to solve the case quickly. The story line progresses rapidly (the book is relatively brief at 170 pages) until a final resolution has been reached.

What sets Simenon's Maigret stories apart from those of his contemporaries is the character of Maigret and down to earth settings of the stories.Maigret is not a character that is revealed to the reader immediately.Simenon doesn't set about to provide you with a character map to Maigret's personality in any one book. Rather, he grows on you over time.He has an innate disdain for higher authority that is appealing.Simenon's settings and other characters also add a dash to his Maigret mysteries.These are not parlor room mysteries where the reader has to determine which upper-class member of the gentry (or the butler) committed murder most foul in the library.Simenon's stories have the feel of grit and the demimonde about them that adds a bit of spice to the `formula'.

Simenon's Inspector Maigret mysteries are a treat to read and should be enjoyed by anyone who likes the detective genre.L. Fleisig
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19. Maigret at the Coroner's
by Georges Simenon
Paperback: Pages (1992-04)
list price: US$5.95
Isbn: 0156551438
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Deputy Sheriff Maigret
Maigret is touring the U.S. to observe American methods. It's a kind of perk. No one expects anything of him except to drink a great deal and be sociable. The Americans call him "Julius," since they have trouble with "Jules." He not only acquires a new name, but a new office. They award him the title of "deputy sheriff" in Tucson.

FBI officer Cole is his guide in Arizona. But after a bit, Cole needs to attend to his own affairs, so he parks Maigret at a coroner's inquest for a few hours. A young woman who spent the night drinking with five Air Force men was found on the railroad tracks torn to shreds by a train.

Was it a gruesome mischance? Or murder? Maigret's attention is riveted by the disjointed and contradictory testimony of the five men, the deputies and various other officials. Can a Frenchman unfamiliar with American ways see into the truth of the matter?

Luckily for the busy FBI man, Maigret can't bear to leave his unofficial post. Day after day he takes his seat at the inquest. Night after night he takes his stool at the local bar.

Maigret's observations of American behavior are quite amusing. Simenon has a genius for deft sketches of eccentric characters, and this book gives the author plenty of scope for his talent.

5-0 out of 5 stars A very good Maigret
I never went to the US and this very good novel gave me some keys in order to understand the american society and the differences with old Europ (and especially with France). And, I realise that, with global world market, the cultural differences between states are becoming smaller and smaller ! May be it's a shame ...

5-0 out of 5 stars Maigret crosses the Atlantic!
Georges Simenon's erstwhile, clever, venerable Parisian detective Maigret is off ona different mission this time; or rather, off to a different location!It's to America he's off to, and, of course, in no time he becomes involved in a local murder.A young woman is found dead and the companions with whom she had been socializing are now testifying in the coroner's inquiry.But Maigret sees something is amiss!Unfortunately, the brilliant Frenchman is caught in a bind--for one, he has

no legal authority here in Arizona, and for two, the French method of interrogation and inquiry is not the same!But not to worry, Maigret has his day, eventually, as "truth will out," as it always does with Simenon and Maigret.Another good read by this prolific author. (Billyjhobbs@tyler.net) ... Read more

20. Maigret and the Nahour Case (Maigret Series of Mysteries)
by Georges Simenon
Paperback: 168 Pages (1993-10-15)
list price: US$5.95 -- used & new: US$7.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156551497
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Unhappy people go trigger-happy
An elegantly dressed young man and woman show up at Dr. Pardon's office around one in the morning, after a dinner party with the Maigrets. The woman, who is very blonde and beautiful, has a gunshot wound. Dr. Pardon dresses the wound, but the couple leaves before he can get any information from them. Dr. Pardon calls his friend Maigret for advice on what to do.

The next day an exhausted Maigret gets a case involving another gunshot wound, fatal this time. Felix Nahour, a wealthy Lebanese man, has been shot dead in his home. A picture begins to emerge of a drama involving more than one gun.

The characters, as always, are interesting. The dead man is a professional gambler who succeeds more often than not at outwitting a variety of casinos based on theories of mathematics and probability. His wife is an ex-beauty queen.

Maigret is certain that everyone in the household is lying, including the maid and secretary. It's as slippery a situation as the weather outside. The city is freezing and inundated with snow, and Parisians, including Maigret, are all losing their balance on the ice.

Maigret doesn't much like this case, but it makes a pretty good story nonetheless.

3-0 out of 5 stars Almost a good mystery
Inspector Maigret of the Paris Police is awoken late one night by a phone call from a doctor friend of his who has just treated a woman in his home office for a bullet wound.As the doctor was cleaning up and before he could notify the authorities, the lady and her male escort disappear.It's another case for the pipe-smoking, hypochondriac, and grumpy Maigret.And he moves it along speedily as he meets some very interesting characters, holds some seriously penetrating inquisitions, does some masterful detective work, until page 155 or so, the average length of a Maigret mystery. At that point, it's time for the author, George Simenon to wrap it up.But it's not the author's job; it's supposed to be Maigret's job.But, Simenon just concludes the story with a very pat explanation not resolved by the detective work that preceded it.He cheated.Up until now, this is a fine example of a good Maigret mystery.But, when the word count quota is satisfied, the author dictates that it is time to stop, whether the story backs the conclusion or not. It's becoming almost as much of a mystery to find a good Maigret book as it is to resolve a Maigret mystery itself.

5-0 out of 5 stars FROM BACK COVER
An elegant blond holds the key to both a murder and its motive.

When Maigret receives an urgent call from his friend Dr. Pardon he responds immediately, despite the late hour; it seems that the doctor had just treated an apparently wealthy woman for a suspicious gunshot wound, but before he could notify the authorities she disappeared with her companion.The doctor's story gains some perspective when the same woman turns up at the house on Avenue de Parc-Montsouris where Felix Nahour has just been found - shot to death.This is a masterful exploration of the twin passions of love and hate as they mingle in the shadowy mind of a criminal.


Georges Joseph Christian Simenon (February 13, 1903-September 4, 1989) was a Belgian writer who wrote in French.
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