Maigret and the man on the bench by Georges Simenon

Maigret and the man on the beach

Belgian fiction

Original title – Maigret et l’homme du banc

Translator – David Watson

Source – Library copy

At the start of the year I reviewed the last Maigret book to be made into one of the new series of tv dramas starring Rowan Atkinson Maigret and the dead man, I was in the library the other day and this cover of one of the most recent editions opf the penguin series to reissue new translations of all the Maigret books caught my eye .

His clothes were clean , respectable . He was wearing a dark suit, a biege raincoat and on his feet which were twisted at an odd angle , he wore greenish-yellow shoes, which seemed out of keeping with a day as colourless at this

Apart from his shoes, he appeared so ordinary that he would have passed completely unnoticed onn the street or on one of the numerous cafe terraces on the boulevard. Neverless, the policeman who discovered him said :

“I get the feeling , I’ve seen him before.”

The body would be anypone apart from those shoes of his !!

So this is like the other novels and all starts with a murder . Louis Thouret is found dead on a bench at a dead-end road. He seems normal enough barring a rather bright pair of yellow shoes. As Maigret takes his wife to see him she says his shoes weren’t his own and at the time he died he should have been work . The usual team around Maigret swing into action , the place he worked isn’t there in fact Louis had worked for a long while getting by on loans and then taking a turn into the world of crime but his family seemed to have known nothing about the double life he was living which meant another flat and life away . But as they ask the family maybe his daughter had more to say than she did. Maigret grows to like Louis and he efforts to keep his family unaware of the loss his job.

“Kaplan and Zanin’s ?” he asked her

“the company closed down three years ago next month my good man ”

“wer you already working here ?”

“I’ll have been here twenty-six years this December.”

“Did you know Louis Thouret?”

“Why of course I knew Monsieur Louis! What has become of him? It must be four of five months since he last dropped by to say hello”

“He’s dead” she immediately stopped sorting the letter.

“He always enjoyed such good health ! What was it ? Heart,I’ll bet just like my husband…”

“He was stabbed to death , yesterday afternoon , not far from here .”

They discover his old workplace has long since ceased trading !

This is a classic story line from crime fiction .I know of a couple of similar classic tales from couple of other classic Crime writers. Connan Doyles Holmes investigated the case of the man with the twisted lip where a respected man thought to have died in an opium den and there is a beggar that is well-known for his ability to quote poetry is he the missing man ? . This is also a similar plot themes  to the Poirot the disappearance of mr Davenheim where the main character disappears but had made a sideline as a  criminal and had spent time in prison not south africa as he said , as part of a plan to frame someone. These both involved the male head of a family that has lost position , money or a job , but was too proud to admit it thus leading them to a life on the other side of the fence of the law.The book was originally released as a part work in the french paper Le figaro in the fifties. I wonder if this will get the Atkinson treatment who since he became Maigret is now whom I picture when reading these books.

Maigret’s dead man by Geroges Simenon

Maigret's Dead Man

Maigret’s Dead man by Geroges Simenon

Belgian fiction

Original title – Maigret et son Mort

Translator – David Coward

Source – review copy

I got an email from the folks that deal with all things Maigret and Simenon in the uk as if I want a copy of this one of the latest from the penguin series Maigret books , they are slowly month by month doing new translations of all the novels in the series which runs to 75 novels and a few short stories collection. This particular book was the latest to be adapted for tv in the new series starring Rowan Atkinson as the latest actor to become Jules Maigret.

“Hello ?….Who is on the line ?..”

Normally the officer on the police switchboard did not put through ay but the most urgent calls.

“I’m sorry sir…it’s a man. He won’t give his name but is very insistent.says he must absolutely talk to you … He swears it’s a matter of life and death…

“And he wants to speak to me personally ?”

“Yes.. shall I put him through?”

Maigret heard a voice saying anxiously ;

“Hello? .. is that you ?

“Detective chief inspector Maigret,yes..”

“I’m sorry about this..My name wouldn’t mean anything to you.. you don’t know me,but you used to know my wife Nina.. HELLO? .. I’ve got to tell you something might happen that…

The call that sets on the trail to find out who the Dead man of the title is and what his secret was !

I read the book before watching the adaptation . Well first point I now have Atkinson in my head as Maigret having previously had him in the form of Micheal Gambon. This book wasn’t part of the Gambon series and is actually one of the hefty novels I have read from Simenon coming in at over 220 pages long for his books , I always see him as an evening read. This also has a clever dual plotline the first plot sees Maigret getting a number of calls from a man who wants to meet him but when they arrange to meet he isn’t there Maigret traces his calls and tries to find out who this man is especially when his body turns up and no-one turns up . The man is middle-aged normal , not a typical criminal type. Then he is told to forget this to help in solving a number of crimes happening in the country that due to a lead has led the gang causing them back to Paris. Maigret is like a bulldog thou and can’t drop this first item to fetch the second but as by chance the man is discovered and his life is revealed . But as the other crime unfolds it is maybe a one in a million chance but it has happened this ordinary guy has led them into a break in the second crime and to the gang carrying out the violent crimes a gang from  outside France but lead by a man in a fur coat . Who is he a criminal mastermind or is his fur Fake ?

It wasn’t a winning slip he had found that morning but a train ticket.

If such had not been his habit ..if he hadn’t seen the man from whose pocket it had dropped.. If the name Goderville had not instantly made him think of the massacres perpetrated by the Picardy gang.. if his feelings had not been written on his face ..

“Poor Albert !” sighed Maigret

That one point the two plots touch just a mere second that leads to the capture of the gang and the death of poor albert as Maigret calls him.

 

I enjoyed this it has more twists than other Maigret books I have read and the clever use of two plot lines that like two ever decreasing orbits end up colliding an exploding. A chance find leads to a violent crime a Man with no real luck runs out of luck just as he has found the clue he wanted to give the Great Maigret a man he admired so much especially as his wife had once had a chance meeting with Jules. So a sad cafe and a couple with no child lead to a threesome of rough czech criminals and a woman with a child that maybe shouldn’t be having one. At this part I felt he was drifting more into his other novel style of the roman durs he wrote that Penguin is also republishing those psychological novels about the human spirit and mind. This is a great choice for the second Atkinson show it has taken him in a different direction to the Gambon which were lighthearted at times and also very nostalgia lead where as THe new one seems much darker and more on Maigret but also those around him his deputies like Janvier who play major part in the book seem more to the fore now.I must admit I wasn’t to pleased when rowan Atkinson got the part but he has managed to win me over with a performance that is very straight not a hint of the man who with a twitch of his nose can have you bent over in laughter.

Did you watch or read this Maigret this christmas ?

 

The Mahé circle by Georges Simenon

 

 

The Mahe Circle

The circle by Georges Simenon

Belgian fiction (Roman Durs)

Original title – Le Cercle des Mahé

Translator – Sian Reynolds

Ah wanna tell ya ’bout a girl
You kno, she lives in Apt. 29
Why… that’s the one right up top a mine
Ah start to cry, Ah start to cry
O ah hear her walkin
Walkin barefoot cross the floor-boards
All thru this lonesome night
And ah hear her crying too.
Hot-tears come leaking down
splashing thru the cracks,
Down upon my face, ah catch’em in my mouth!
Walk’n’cry Walk’n’cry-y!!!
From her to eternity!
From her to eternity!
From her to eternity!

Well this is Nick cave song about obsession with a  neighbour source  

The first non Maigret novel ,I’m review here is the first to be reissued from the other type of fiction Simenon was known for his Roman Durs (means hard novels – they are more complex in the storylines than his other books and often darker ) .As it is Nobel week I decide to look at Nomination database that is on the Nobel site to see if he was ever nominated for the nobel prize it shows he had 6 nominations up til 1963 which is as far as the database goes up to so it looks like he may have had more in the years after that .

“She is dead isn’t she ?”

The eyes of the girl in the red dress were still starring at him through the darkness and he hesitated to answer the woman ,who went on :

“The last hour , she was trembling all over , I had to hold her … sweating too … bad smell  … I can still smell it on my hands

The woman dies just as the doctor gets there to see to her .

 

The circle is the story of one man  Dr Francois  Mahé  and his obsession with a women ,after he caught a glimpse of her this is on his holiday with his family on the small island of porquerolles of the southern coast of France , whilst their he also attends to a dying women as he is called into help whilst fishing with some local men .He returns home ,but then he drags his family back for the following three summers as he has a growing sense of attraction to this younger women Elizabeth  even getting a young family member to start trying to date her .

Already last year , she was much changed .She had still been wearing the red dress, as she was even this year , it was as though the dress was growing with her .And she was still just as thin , but her breasts had formed and now showed through the fabric

The girl has grown more into a women over the years he has visited the islands .

Well this is different to Maigret , there is a very sparse nature to Simenon’s story we only get what is need , he is never one to over load his writing with too much detail .The story could be viewed as one man’s mid-life crisis in a way , Francois is a man who has reach a point in his life he is a doctor ,has kids and a life ,but at some point he wants a different life .That is the main point of the book it is the battle of Francois  between the life he has and the life he sees on the small islands , worlds classes apart its a dark look at what happens when a rich chap looks over the other side whilst on holiday , I was reminded of the film Shirley Valentine , where a housewife falls in love on a greek island ,well imagine if that film had a male and was made by David Lynch and you have the Mahe circle , love here is really obsession , this obsession is also mirror in his obsession to catch a certain fish in the book .The island leaps of the pages at time , but all that sun and easy living as it seems isn’t all it is cracked up to be .

June 2017
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