Maigret and Monsieur Charles by Georges Simenon

Maigret and Monsieur Charles by Georges Simenon

Belgian fiction

Original title –  Maigret et Monsieur Charles

Translator – Ros Schwartz

Source – review copy

I was pleased I was sent this title which is the last of the novels of the Maigret series that Penguin has been putting out in new translations. I was in at the start and have reviewed nine of the new title including this one. In fact, it was six years ago yesterday I posted my review of Pietr the Latvian which came out in 1931 this his last novel featuring Maigret was written in 1972 with many years Simenon publishing two Maigret books I still have  66 of the new series to read. But it has been a great achievement from Penguin to bring this and many of his novels out in new translations. I do hope we see more of these in the Rowan Atkinson series that has done bur it seems to have been cancelled which is a shame.

“You are Detective Chief Inspector Maigret, are you not?”

“Yes”

“I Imagined you fatter”

She was wearing a fur coat and matching hat,was it mink? Maigret had no idea, because the wife of a divisionary chief inspector genrally had to be content with rabbit or, at best , muskrat or nutria

Madame Sabin-Levesque’s eyes roved slowly around the office as if making an inventory. When Lapointe sat down at the desk, with his notebook and pencil,she asked

“Is this youngmany going to stay in the room?”

“Of course”

“Is he going make a not of our conversation?”

“It’s the rule”

Her brow furrowed and she gripped her crocodile sjin hand bag tighter

She reports Gerard disappearance and seems to be a lady by the description but there is more than fur and crocodile skin.

Maigret is nearing his retirement and is on the verge of an office job when this case comes across his desk. When Nathalie Sabin- Levesque whose husband Gerard but then Maigret and Lapointe discover that he is well known around the town and often leaves his wife for days drinking and is known to the girls of the night he meets as  Monsieur Charles. So he had disappeared a month earlier than they expected when Nathalie first came to them due to his habit of disappearing for days. Charles /Gerrard works for successful lawyers this shows the other side of his life the people he works with aren’t fans of his wife. WHo had said she was a legal secretary when she met Gerrard but who it turns out was a call girl that he married and she has tried to take up the mantle of a rich wife. But she has her ghost from her past trying to threaten her. In turn, has this effect her husband when he turns up dead Maigret is faced with a choice in what is maybe the last time he can tread those dark alleys, bars, cafes of Paris.

“Do you haveany news?” He asked

“Not news, exactly. As far as I know, the last person who saw your boss was hostedd at the cric-Crac in Rue Clement- Marot, And when he left her he was supposed to go to Avenue des Ternes, where a young woman was expecting him… That was in the middle of the night of the 18th of feburary… He never turned up at the Avenue des Termes … Perhaps he changed his mind on the way?

Charles had a habit of disappearing for days.

The feeling is the later Maigrets are weaker than the earlier ones but like Doyle when he wrote the Holmes stories they just run out of material for their character to do. So there is common threads in the books to earlier works fallen woman ladies of the night is a recurring character in Maigret. The rich doing wrong is another recurring theme in Maigret. When Maigret and Lapointe head out to find Monsieur Charles and what he is like it seems old times as they hunt the dark underbelly of Paris. It has a poor marriage at its heart a husband that married a call girl and carried on as he always did a wife that wants the world he lived in but instead is caught in a limbo. It is a story that has many twists and turns in it but maybe isn’t as original as the earlier books seemed.

And where were you , Adam by Heinrich Böll

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And where were you, Adam by Heinrich Böll

German fiction

Original title – Wo warst du, Adam?

Translator – Leila Vennewitz

Source – personal  copy

I always try to squeeze a Heinrich Böll novel into my German lit month reading so this is the eighth book by him I have reviewed on the blog and follows on from the last book by him I reviewed which was the reissue of his debut novel the train was in time. This is his second novel and like his debut deals with world war two whereas, on the whole, his later works deal with post-war Germany and the aftermath of the war. This book deals with the war but also in a way how Boll as a catholic struggle at times with the war. It also captures the death of the Nazis and the german army falling apart.

Now there were only three times thirty-five men, a weary, dust-coated platon, with sore feet and sweating faces, led by a first lieutenant whose face plainly showed that he was fed to the teeth. As soon as he took command they j=knew what kind of man he was. All he had done was look at them and, tired as they were, and thristy, thiursty they could read it in his eyes: It’s a lot of shot,said his expression, “Just a lot of shit, but we can’t do a thing about it” and then came his voice, with studied indifference, contemptous of all regulation commands: let’s go

The war weary troops in the opening chapter.

The book is nine chapters that are very loosely connected they start with a colonel and his men facing defeat on the front the sense of loss being the worst thing that could happen even the password is Victory. As some of the men end up in hospital this is the next part of the book as the recovery in the hospital the first part from the view of a colonel as he relives the brighter times of women and sparkling wines. Then there are two character sergeant and a corporal who is working in the hospital and are dealing with Hungarians selling vegetables and then there is a brain-injured major the reminds me of the characters in fifty-first dates as he says the same word ever so often. Then we see a solider fall for a jews women this relationship between Private Feinhals and Ilona he falls in love with this teacher and then is sent to the front with his comrades in a furniture van they had got to take them to a battle in a village whilst this happens Ilona is sent to a concentration camp. Then we see the other characters story tied up as the horror and aftermath of the war

As he entered the patients room the captain said in a low, hollow tone:” Byelogorshe” Schmitz knew it was pointless to look at his watch; that rhythm was more precise than any watch could ever be, and while he sat on the edge of his bed, the medical history in his hands, almost lulled to sleep by that ever-recurring word, the tried to figure out how such a thythm could come about – what mechanism, what clockwork, in that appallingly patched up, sliced up skull, was releasing that monotonus litany?

The brain injured soldier is like the characters in fifty first dates as his life and the word he speaks is in a loop !!

This is a no barred view of the war. Boll served in the army and was injured a number of times so the time in the hospital so the scenes are all I imagined taken from his time in the war. It captures the effect of the war on the ordinary man and also the actions of the war on someone like Boll that was catholic this is captured in a scene at the concentration camp where a Jew sings perfectly a catholic song in Latin in the Camp choir leaving one of the soldiers on what race means. written six years after the war whereas his debut was written as the war was happening this is an early example of what is called Trümmerliteratur which Boll was one of the main members of the group which dealt with the German reaction to the war from those on the ground level. it shows love death and all those in between.

A gun for sale by Graham Greene

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A gun for sale by Graham Greene

English fiction

Source – personal copy

I found a few days ago every book I was reading wasn’t grabbing me I start three or four never getting more than forty pages in so I decided it was time to try an old classic one of my Graham Greene for me he is one of those go to writers when you have been struggling to find something great. Graham Greene is one of those writers that didn’t write many bad books and this is one that isn’t as well known as some of his other books but it was made into a film in the forties an Italian and Turkish films and a tv film in the nineties and was written before Brighton rook and like Pinkie raven is a very amoral character.

Murder didn’t mean much to Raven. It was just a new job. You had to be careful. You had to use your brains. It was not a question of hatred. He had only seen the ministeronce: he had pointed out to Raven as he walked down the new housingestate between the little lit christmas tree, an old, rather grubby man without any friends, who was said to love humanity

The cold wind cut his face in the wide continental street. It was a good excuse for turning the collar of his coat well up above his mouth. A hare-lip was a serious handicap in his profession; it had been badly sewn in infancy, so that now the upper lip was twisted and scarred. When you carried about you si easy an identification you couldn’t help but becoming ruthless in your methods. It had always, from the first been necessary for Raven to eliminagte the evidence

The opening two paragraphs could jump from a classic american hard boilded noir i loved them!!

The book unfolds after a hired assassin Raven kills the minister of war in a distant European country. his father was hung for murder and his mother committed suicide so he grew up very amoral and with his own code.  He returns home to get paid by his paymaster a man called Cholmondeley. It is only after he is paid he gather he has been double-crossed when the notes he is using are stolen and being tracked by the police. He finds that Cholmondeley is heading on a train to Nottwich a fictional midland town. This is where the man that paid Cholmondeley is a steel magnate Sir Marcus paid him to kill the minister. On the train he meets a chorus girl who is the fiance of a detective on the tail of Raven, So he takes Anne with him but as she knows Cholmondeley real name which is Davies and helps him get to him as a way to keep her self alive. Will he get Davies and find out who paid him and will Anne escape.

Nor did the meter fail him. He had a schilling to spare. When Mr Cholmondeley led the way in by tthe Euston war memorial to the Greart smoky entrance and rashly he gace it to the driver: rashly because there was a long wait ahead of himwith nothing but his hunderd and nitey-five pounds to buy sandwich with. For Mr Cholmondeley led the way with two porters behind him to the left-luggage counter depositing there three suitcasesm a portable typewriter, a bag of golf clubs, a small attache case, and a hat-box.Raven heard him ask which platform the midnight train went.

Raven tracking after he found he had been double crossed and they head tio Nottwich on the train .

This is an early Graham Greene written before Brighton rock Raven is maybe an early take on the Pinkie character that sort of Amoral man of circumstance here raven is a cold-blooded killer and isn’t pleased when double crossed so he then goes on an act of revenge. It is wonderfully paced keeping you gripped to the last page and has an interesting set of character the chorus girl Davies the middle man Sir Marcus the man paying for the killing and Anne’s boyfriend the main detective on Raven’s tail to add a nice twist in the tail. This is Greene before he was Greene a writer early on his career it has pinches of Buchan, Conrad and a touch of American Hard-boiled thriller. But for me it still has that Catholic guilt that in a lot of his fiction. Have you read this or have you another favorite By Greene?

 

Inspector Cadaver by Georges Simenon

 

Inspector Cadaver by Georges Simenon

Inspector Cadaver by Georges Simenon

Belgian fiction

Original title – L’Inspecteur Cadavre

Translator William Hobson

Source – library book

I had another couple of books set aside for 1944 club but started one and didn’t get into it and the other was rather long so I had picked this up in the library last week after thinking Had Simenon wrote any books in 1944. Not that hard to imagine he hadn’t as he wrote 700 novels in his life and there is a good chance he had written some books in 1944. He turned out to have written three Maigret books that year This and as the earlier title was Maigret and the fortuneteller and Maigret and the toy village the later I knew as it was used as one of the earlier ITV Maigret series with Micheal Gambon called Felice. Now it has a common theme with this book as well.

“You don’t need anything ? I was forgetting … let me show you the w.c..”

The Men shake hands, and then Maigret undresses and gets in bed. He hears noises in the house. from very far off in his half sleep his ears cathc what sounds like the murmuring of voices , but it sonns fades awaym and the house becomes quiet as it is dark.

He falls asleep, of thinks he does. He keeps seeing the dismal face of Carve, who had to be the most miserable man on this earht, and then he dreams that the apple-cheeked maid who waited on them at dinner is bringing him his breakfast.

Magiret arrives and meets carve and dreams of him and the local maid that first nifght in the village.

Felice like Inspector Cadaver sees Maigret outside his home turf of Paris. He heads to a small village like in Felice. This time he is doing a favor for a Judge friend. The brother in law of the Judge Etienne Naud a landowner in the village of Saint Aubin Les Marias. On January 7 a man was killed by the train the Albert was crushed by a train.The young man had a connection to the Naud family.  Now the Judge is worried as he brother in law has said the rumor going around is that he has done it and Maigret is asked to go and try and find out what happened. When he arrives he sees another man that he has known in the past a former Policeman that Maigret had a run in whilst they were both still policeman the man Carve was called Inspector cadaver by his fellow officers. He wasn’t the best policeman what is he doing in the village. As Maigret starts to ask questions around the village everyone is silent. But as it becomes clear what sort of man Maigret is and that is a man of truth and justice the locals start to open up about the event before and during that fateful night.

The question Maigret had been turning over in his mind since the previous evening was this;  was he staying with decent sorts who had nothing to hide and were extending their warmest welcome to a guest from Paris, or was he an undesirable outsider whom examining Magistrate Brejon had thoughtlessly imposed on a non plussed household who would gladly have dispensed with his services.

Maigret gets there and feelslike the Nauds doin’t really want him there.

I was reading this earlier in the week and Kaggyy put up her review of this book as well. I left reading it so I had read the book and thought what I thought of the book. This has part of what we haven’t seen yet in the recent Maigret tv series and that is him outside Paris he was in one of the new books but it did link back to Paris this is a story set in the Village. I had the Gambon Maigret in mind for this story as he seems o more suited in my mind to the ones outside Paris he actually did what Simenon did there and Kaggy point out and that he tended to side with the common folk in the story this especially in Felice where he sided with the young woman in the village  that everyone else had problems with he was a man of the poor and the underdog . he is also like a terrier dog as a detective not graceful more get stuck in and the clues are there and he goes around at times he is quite blunt in this book. Then there is also the story of his old rival as a second storyline the story of how Carve was made to leave the police. Another enjoyable book in this series and it brings to eight of the Maigrets I have reviewed there is still a lot to go in the series hopefully next club will also have one to review !!

The day before Happiness by Erri De Luca

 

 

The day before Happiness by Erri De Luca

Italian fiction

Original title – Il giorno prima della felicità

Translator – Jill Foulston

Source – personal copy

Another of the books I recently brought on holiday. There was something about this cover the cheekiness of the boy on the cover and it is a coming of age story. Which I really enjoy. Erri De Luca is a well-known writer in Italy but not in English so far.  He has been writing since his twenties but wasn’t till later in life he got his first book published. Since then he has published over seventy books, had them translated into a number of languages. He has also translated a number of books into Italian from Hebrew as a self-taught translator. He is also a keen climber and has been active in the opposition to a rail line between Turin and Lyon. He grew up in Naples.

I went to the school. My adoptive mother enrolled me, but I never saw her. The porter, Don Gaetano, looked after me. In the evenings , he’d bring me a hot meal, and in the morning before scholol, I’d take back the clean plate while he warmed me a mug of milk. I lived in a little room, the Sstanzino, by myself Don Gaetano hardly spoke at all. He’d grown up as an orphan too, but in an orphanage, unlike me. I was free t come and go in our building and around the city

Intially Don Gaetano says little but as the book goes pon he opens up to the young boy.

This is a story of a childhood in Naples told through the eyes of young Orphan. He is living with his adoptive family. But as it is said early on they are rarely there for him and he is mainly looked after by Don Gaetano he is the elderly caretaker of the blog of flats where the young boy lives. He starts of trying to fit in by first rescuing a ball and trying to join in with a game of football with the older boys but he never fits in. But he catches a glimpse of pretty girl via reflections in the window this is a sign of an early sexual awakening in the boy. later he meets an older woman. He also discovers books reading a book a day during the summer holidays he borrows from a shop. He also learns the city via the older man telling him of the Naples he knew during and before the war also how he hid a jew during the war.

Don Gaetano missed nature as he’d known it in Argentina. On the plains where herds grazed freely, lighting struck to the rhythm of the tarantella, and the earth was the sky’s dance fllor.”It was normal to be an orphan there. Everyone was, animals and men alike kn the plains ias vast as the ocean. Theives defrocked priests, anarchists, the Irish.. Argentina lifted the wieght off your heart and gave you back all the spaceyou could ever want.

The old man spent time in Argentina and opens the boys eyes with tales he tells him making him see beyond the city at times.

This is a short novella it is just over a hundred pages and like most great novellas it seems so much more. This is the story of a boy growing but without his parents, Don Gaetano does his best to help the boy. The relationship between the two brought to mind to me the relationship between Salvatore and Alfredo in Cinema Paradiso. Like that film, there is also so a large character of the Place her in this book it is Naples that city of the Southern Italy that at one point the narrator says is more like a Spanish city. This book came out of course after the success of the Neopolitan novels of Elena Ferrante. Erri De Luca has been around longer than Ferrante but it is good to see as a knock on of the \Ferrante novels other books set in Naples have been published.

Maigret’s Secret by Georges Simenon

 

Maigret’s secret by Georges Simenon

Belgian fiction

Original title –  Une confidence de Maigret

Translator – David watson

Source – personal copy

It has been ten months since I reviewed a Maigret on the blog so when a search for a holiday read, I choose the latest of the series of books that Penguin has been bringing out over the last few years. This is one of the later books. This is slightly different to the other books I have read as Maigret himself is retelling the events of the case many years after the event. There is still a number of Maigret books to come I will be dipping in over the years to come I am sure not in order unfortunately but as they appeal to me.

A longer silence. He emptied his pipe and took another one from his pocket, which he slowly filled, seeming to caress the briar.

I remember one case, not so long ago .. Did you follow the josset affair ?

“The name rings a bell”

“There was a lot in the papers about it, but the true story insofar as there is a true story was never told”

It was very unnusual for him to talk about a case he had been involved in. Occasionally, at Quai des Orfevres, among colleagues, some famous case or some difficult investigation might be mentioned, but it was always a passing allusion.

Magriet starts talking about Josset and his case with him a rare event.

Maigret is at a dinner party one evening when he starts telling his fellow guests a story of an old case that since it happened had troubled him.The case is that of one Adrien Josset. He is a man that came from a modest background. But thanks to his wives wealth gets a position which gives him a good standard of living. He is also having an affair with his secretary Annette a much younger woman than his wife. So when after a night out with his mistress where he bumps into Annette’s father and somehow says he will marry her. So when he returns and later his wife turns up dead he is, of course, the number one suspect. But over the interviews with Josset  Maigret feels this man is innocent and believes his story. But the problem is the case is quickly seized upon by the press and when events outside the case lead to a backlash against Josset and puts him in the frame in the publics Eye what is Maigret to do, this is what he expains over the course of two evening to his friends at a dinner party.

Certain details of the case were etched more sharply than others in Maigret’s memory. Even years later he could recall the particular taste and smell of the rain shower in the Rue Caulaincourt as keenly as a childhood memory.

It was six thirty in the evening, and when the rain started it did not obscure the sun, already red above the rooftops. The sky remained ablaze, the window shimmering with the reflected light, and only a siingle pearl grey clud, slightly darker at the centre and glowing at its edges, floated over the streets, as light as a ballon.

Maigret recalls visitng a scene involved in the crime and remembers it years later.

This is different to the over  Maigret as it shows the foibles of the man. But it maybe is quite a modern story as it shows the power of the press in forming public opinion. This happens more so now than it used to I can think of a number of cases over the last few years where the press has driven public opinon in the case. This is shown to great effect in the book. Maigret is shown as a fair man like he is in the other books but one that can also dwell on events that have happened. This is also a classic what might have ben in a way one of those case that seems open and shut when it starts.

Death in Spring by Mercè Rodoreda

Death in Spring by  Mercè Rodoreda

Spanish Catalan fiction

Original title –  La mort i la primavera

Translator – Martha Tennet

Source – personnel copy

Well, I read the first of my post-holiday reads in a day. This book came out a few years ago in the US and earlier this year here as part of a new penguin series into European voices. Merce Rodoreda was considered one of the leading novelist of her time. her novel The time of the doves has been considered the greatest Catalan novel. She lived most of her life in Exile in France and Switzerland away from the Franco regime only returning later on in her life to Spain towards the end of the Franco years.

I craned my head out of the water. The light was stronger now, and I swam slowly, wanting to take my time before leaving the river. The water embraced me. It would have seized ,e if I had let it , and – pushed forward and sucked under- I would have ended up in the place where nothing is comprehended.Reeds grew in the river; the current bent them, and they let themselves be rocked by the water that was carrying the force of the sky, earth and smow.

The opening lines have that feel of nature cling to the people of the village .

Now I said this was a novella I wanted to read as I saw it as a male version of the book Stones in a landslide.Which was one of my favourite novels of all time. But this is a very different coming of age novel. This is a visceral novel of a boy becoming a man in a remote village that still clings to the past. There is like the scenery around the book vines and forest of death as it is called there is a sense of a world. Being caught out of time and maybe for our narrator, there is no way out of it. Nature captures people, like the dead body in the river. returned to the river.The bridges that never seem to be used a dense forest give the Narrators world a closed in feel. The other characters his father dying, his stepmother the Blacksmith and his odd son all give this a sense of the beauty and horror of nature. A boy becomes a man in a strange world a wonderful narrated world of mountain villages.

When they pulled the boy from the river, he was dead, the returned him to the river. Those who died in the water were returned to the water. The river carried them away and nothing was ever known of them again.But at night, at the spot where the bodies were thrown into the water, a shadow could be seen.Not every night. Not today or tomorrow, but on certain nights a shadow trembled,They said the shadow of the dead returned to the place where the man was born.They said that to die was to merge with the shadow.

I was so remind of Marquez with this lines and the river which in his books is a powerful prescense as well.

This is a novella that like many great shorter books seems much more than its parts. It is full of descriptions of the world around them at times this is maybe a metaphor for how Franco strangled the country. There is also for me an echo of the works of Marquez the village her is a Spanish cousin of Marquez’s Macondo village. The same sense of a place cling to its customs and superstitions of the outside world this is a world the character is trapped in like those vines and even if he escapes there is moss to slip on, bridges to cross and rivers to survive. Hope is always there but like a dim light in the valley below the village.

The Gold-Rimmed Spectacles by Giorgio Bassani

The Gold-rimmed spectacles by Giorgio Bassani

Italian fiction

Original title – Gli occhiali d’oro

Translator – Jamie McKenrick

Source – library book

I announced in January that I was doing Italian Lit month in March well here we go I have read a few books not as many as I had hoped but hope to bring mostly Italian books over this month and I start with A modern Classic. Giorgio Bassani was considered one of the best post-war Italian writers A Jewish writer he ended up during the war in the same town as this book as a teacher in the Jewish school there. He married briefly after the war edited a literary magazine for a number of years. Where he started publishing short stories and then this was his second novel he had written on in the war years published under a fake name.

Soon enough, going to Fadigati’s became more than a fashion, became a distinct pleasure. Especially on winter ebenings, when the icy wind, whistling, threaded its way from the Piazza Catterdrale down Via Gorgadello, it was with a frank satisfaction that the rich bourgeois, wrapped up in his fur coat, using the pretext of the faintest of sore throats to slip inside the half closed little door,would climb up the two staircases and ring the bell at the glass door.

Fadigati is the toast of the town early on in the book but then he takes a downward spiral.

The gold-rimmed spectacles is the story of a Jewish Doctor.Athos Fadigati is a doctor.He is the one the upper class in the town like to use as he is considered cultured. But there are two things about him that we learn early on the first is he is Jewish the second he is Gay. So he is a well-known figure in the town of Ferrara. He tries to fit in mainly by keeping his homosexuality undercover. He meets one man whilst going on the train, this is where the narrator sees him. We see in the townsfolk of Ferrara as this novella unfolds a changing attitude towards the Doctor from Open at first. But as a former Lover lets go that they were together and this is after a few years of Mussolini ruling. So his patients start disappearing. But the attitudes are starting to change the town has a Jewish community, but as the rest of the townsfolk are wanting to follow the new rules their lives start getting harder. The narrator is a fellow Jew watching the Doctors life fall apart in front of him over time. Til he is left with few options as the town turns against him.

For quite some time, during the whole journey, he kept apart in his second class carriage.

Taking it in turns, profiting from stops the train made at San Giorgio de piano or San Pietro in Casale, one of our grup would leap out with the task of buying something to eat from the bar of the small station: rolls filled with freshly wrapped, raw salami , almond-studded chocolate that tasted of soap, half-mouldy Osvego biscuits. Turning to look at the stationary train, and then walking past the carriage after carriage at a certain point we could distinguish Dr Fadigati, who from behind the thick glass of his compartment, would be watching people crossing the tracks and hurrying back to the third class carriages.

The narrator tells of his trips on the train and the doctor going with them.

This is a study of what Bassani must have seemed himself in the small towns where over the years of Mussolini the Jewish people living there found their lives were getting hard by the day. This is the first in a number of books and stories he wrote about the small time of Ferrara a town where he taught over the war years so the sense of hatred and turn against people that were once your friends must have been so real to him and as he wrote so much about them.The book was made into a film. This is an interesting novella from one of the best post-war Italian writers I’m lucky to have a couple of other books by him on my tbr so maybe I may get to him again this month.

 

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 .

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