Monday, 27 February 2017
GEORGES SIMENON - MAIGRET'S DEAD MAN (1948)
That shoeless foot looked incongruous lying on the pavement next to another foot encased in a shoe made of black kid leather. It was naked, private.... It was Maigret who retrieved the other shoe, which lay by the kerb six or seven metres away.
A series of strange phone calls leads Inspector Maigret through the Paris streets towards a man out of his depth amid a network of merciless criminals.
Maigret's Dead Man was my first taste of prolific Belgian author, Georges Simenon's Inspector Maigret in what was his 29th case. It was enjoyable, not least because of its overall length and is hopefully not my last encounter with the Parisian detective.
An unidentified man has been murdered on the streets, a man who had been phoning Maigret throughout the afternoon of his death. Maigret directing operations has to identify the man and discover his killer, all while placating or ignoring the magistrate with overall responsibility for the case.
Quite the challenge, but slowly Maigret builds up a portrait of the man. A careful analysis of his clothing, determining what work he may have performed; the contents of his stomach informing his social status and the type of establishments which he might frequent and enjoy his meals.
We have a few underlings ready to do Maigret's bidding without question, phone here, stake-out there, some door knocking elsewhere. Not especially fast-paced, but not pedestrian either, just a really enjoyable read. Maigret logically gathering information, turning supposition and guesswork into fact.
We identify the victim, we get a break in the case, again after some patient police work, cause some panic in the ranks of those responsible and after a few more mini-adventures close out the case. (I doubt I'm spoiling this for anyone by disclosing this.)
Plenty of applied logic, a bit of action, a surprising bit of graphic detail when interrogating a suspect and a satisfactory conclusion. Where's Simenon and his main man been all my reading life?
4.5 from 5
Originally published in 1948, Penguin Classics reissued this one last year. Part of a project to bring all 75 Maigret's give or take to a modern readership.
Read in February, 2017
Published -1948 (and 2016)
Page count - 240
Source - review copy from Penguin Classics team.
Format - paperback