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A Man's Head (Maigret #5)

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  626 Ratings  ·  87 Reviews
A rich American widow and her maid have been stabbed to death in a brutal attack. All the evidence points to Joseph, a young drifter, and he is soon arrested. But what is his motive? Or is he just a pawn in a wider conspiracy?

Inspector Maigret believes the police have the wrong man and lets him escape from prison to prove his innocence. perhaps, with Joseph on the loose, t
Paperback, Penguin Red Classics, 137 pages
Published 2006 by Penguin (first published 1931)
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(showing 1-30 of 998)
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Dec 18, 2012 Tfitoby rated it really liked it
How an author as prolific as Simenon could maintain such high standards is beyond me, this early entry in the Maigret series was book 5 of 11(!) published in the series in 1931 and they range from good to very good.
"I was born in the dark and in the rain but I got away. The crimes I write about are the crimes I would have committed if I had not got away." - Georges Simenon

This particular entry is notable for featuring a psychological showdown between the hero cop and the killer who is baiting
Mohammad Ali

اگر شخصیت رادک رو کنار بذاریم، کتابی بود کشنده و جذاب که کنار گذاشتنش واقعا سخت بود

از وقتی رادک وارد داستان شد شخصیت زیادی زرنگ او و حرف هایش داستان رو تاحدی غیرطبیعی کرد. به نظرم اگر او یه کم طبیعی تر و معمولی تر ترسیم می شد؛ اون نفسی گیری تا آخر ادامه پیدا می کرد

اما علی رغم این نکته ی به نظر من منفی، داستانی بود خواندنی. نوشتار کوتاهی که در پایان کتاب در مورد آثار سیمنون نوشته شده بود هم گرچه مختصر بود اما اشارات جالبی داشت
Of all the Inspector Maigret novels I have read thus far (10), "A Man's Head" on the face of it was one of the most baffling to me. The story begins with Maigret visiting La Santé Prison, where a man (Joseph Heurtin) he had apprehended and had apparently proven his guilt in the murders of a rich, elderly American widow and her maid, awaited his execution. Heurtin had always asserted his innocence, though the evidence at the crime scene supported his culpability in the crime. Heurtin had been cau ...more
Ivonne Rovira
Aug 23, 2014 Ivonne Rovira rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Usually large and in charge, Chief Inspector Jules Maigret rarely breaks a sweat in most of Georges Simenon’s novels, but in A Man’s Head, Maigret’s job is on the line.

Joseph Heurtin, a deliveryman, was condemned to hang for the brutal stabbing murder of a rich American woman, Mrs. Henderson, and her maid. Gradually, Maigret comes to believe that Heurtin — who never met the women, from whom nothing was stolen — is a fall guy in a bigger plan. But what?

To find out, Maigret engineers Heurtin’s es
Oct 10, 2011 Maureen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
this is the first novel i've read by georges simenon period, and the first i've read in his detective series featuring inspector maigret. having just read my first martin beck novel, i was much struck by the similarities between the two heroes: both have a determined, patient, and inexorable approach to the crimes in question though maigret, being french, seems to give a bit more of his inner turmoil away, and in general seems more loved and respected by his peers. and really, one feels how fren ...more
Jul 31, 2015 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short take:

The first half of this book was great: Maigret puts his career on the line by gambling on a man's possible innocence, and it is clear that some of the big wigs in law enforcement are just waiting for the big man to mess up. In fact, a person with Maigret's track record probably would inspire some to nurse misgivings about his successes. The second half of the story, in which Maigret seizes upon his true suspect, did not fascinate nearly as much, as the perp did not present an intere
Jun 30, 2015 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france, mysteries, simenon
This is no Sherlock Holmes, this is no "tale of ratiocination" to use Poe's term. No, Inspector Maigret is a superb tuned intellect with years of experience dealing with crime. His five foot ten frame, weighing some 200 pounds, is almost totally impassive. You will never see this investigator running off at the mouth. He will hang around until the facts make themselves clear, and then he will act with decisive speed to tie up the loose ends.

Georges Simenon is, to my mind, a crossover writer. He
Elijah Kinch Spector
Wait, is that title symbolic or did they actually still use the guillotine in 1931? Someone mentions it, but I didn't know if they were being flowery or not...

Anyway, this was my introduction to Simenon and his extremely famous (in much of the world) Maigret character, and it was a pretty unique experience. Would it seem as unique if I'd read a few more of the seventy-plus books written about the character? Probably not, but to see where detective fiction was going in France in a time as pivotal
pierlapo  quimby
May 21, 2012 pierlapo quimby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: francofoni, maigret
Un Maigret va sempre bene.

Possibili applicazioni pratiche:
1) in stazione
il treno è in ritardo, l'uomo seduto al mio fianco indossa degli orribili sandali e siamo solo ad aprile, la piadina m'è rimasta sullo stomaco, ma...
2) in borsa
la borsa è piena zeppa di fascicoli, pesa un quintale, non c'è spazio quasi per nient'altro, ma...
3) pausa pranzo
devo ancora finire l'atto che scade domani, alle tre passa il ragioniere con i documenti che avrebbe dovuto consegnarmi giorni fa, il telefono pare impazzi
Jun 06, 2015 Hikari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Der fünfte Band der 75teiligen Reihe über den Pariser Kriminalkommissar Jules Maigret erzählt eine spannende Geschichte, die vom Verlag als einer der merkwürdigsten Fälle beschrieben wird.

Sobald man die ganze Geschichte erfährt und alle Fakten kennt, weiß man, dass es nicht der merkwürdigste, aber wohl einer der schauerlichsten Fälle ist. So viel Abgebrühtheit und Hass - hui.
Zuvor sorgt das Geschehen aber für reichlich Spannung, da man mit Maigret bzw. sogar etwas länger als Maigret auf dem Schl
Jul 11, 2014 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
After a few weeks where the World Cup interrupted my reading time, a restless night has enabled me to read this book in pretty quick time.

This is an early Maigret novel; wonderfully capturing the inspector's brooding presence and demonstrating his bloodhound qualities of seeking out his man and establishing justice.
Detective Chief Inspector Maigret is unhappy about a recent double murder which he didn't oversee after making an arrest. Subsequently there was trial and the convicted murdered aband

The Maigret Mysteries of Simenon are not so widely read anymore, which is a shame, because this is a good little book to delve into when you have the time. Although it is not as complex as Poe's tales of 'ratiocination' or as refined as Christie's Poirot; Simenon's story stands up as a good example of how to do a character study of a villain. In short, it dusts off the quaint Victoriana and Gothic garbs that became synonymous with the genre, and sets a decidedly gritty, modern tone. Within Simen
Dec 06, 2010 Mmyoung rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, maigret
A comparatively disappointing outing for Maigret after the high quality of the last two books. Simenon continues his exploration of Paris life but in a manner less convincing, or compelling than his recently published books. The conceit behind the opening two chapters of the book is surprising and the reader looks forward to a fresh insight in the ways in which Maigret himself, as opposed to the system in which he works, comes to conclusions as to guilt and innocence. Unfortunately that opening ...more
Nov 25, 2014 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simenon's Maigret novels continue to be addicting.
Dec 30, 2015 Kenneth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another fast paced Inspector Maigret mystery, a real page turner.
Lukasz Pruski
Yet another coincidence. After finishing Agatha Christie's 1931 novel "Murder at Hazelmoor", I picked up the next "light reading item" on my shelf, and it happened to be Georges Simenon's "Maigret's War of Nerves" (French title is "La Tête d'un homme"), written in the same year. In both the Christie's and Simenon's novels the plots take place in about 1930 and I find it interesting that Christie's past seems to be much more dated than Simenon's. It feels almost like my grandmother's world versus ...more
Nick Jones
Feb 23, 2015 Nick Jones rated it liked it
I find the premise for this story unconvincing. A prisoner is waiting on Death Row (or whatever the French equivalent of Death Row is): he has been convicted of a murder, the forensic evidence is conclusive, he has given no alternative explanation: Maigret was the arresting officer, but he is not convinced: there is no motive and the accused does not act like a guilty man. He convinces the authorities to let the convicted man escape...that’s the bit I don’t find convincing, so I just have to sus ...more
Nov 29, 2014 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A MAN’S HEAD. (1931). Georges Simenon. ****.
Joseph Heurtin is the natural suspect for the violent murder by stabbing of both a wealthy American widow and her maid in a hotel room. His shoe prints are found in the room, etched in blood. His fingerprints are all over everything. His clothes are covered in blood. It is only natural that he was accused and taken into custody. At his trial, he had no defense: he only kept repeating, “I didn’t kill them.” Inspector Maigret, who was in charge of the ca
A short Maigret in the classic Simenon tradition wherein Maigret solves a baffling mystery. An old woman and her maid is killed by a man to whom all the evidence points, yet even though he was the arresting officer, Maigret cannot reconcile the psychology of the man with the evidence. He arranges for the convicted killer to escape, risking his reputation and job discovering the identity of the true murderer while drawing on his pipe and sipping at his Calvados.

The Maigret novels are addictive.
Charles Dee Mitchell
Inspector Maigret has helped convict a man of a brutal double murder, but he has also become convinced that the man is innocent. The night before his execution, the prisoner receives a note outlining an escape route from the prison. He follows these instructions and is gone.

Maigret has arranged this escape, certain that the man on the run will lead the police to the true murderer. Are you buying this? Were police procedures in the 1930’s so accommodating that such a stunt would be allowed. Then
Dec 10, 2012 Claudia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

I've now read two Maigret novels, and I just don't see what the big sneeze is about them. I read one in French, and thought, "Meh...but maybe it's because my French is rusty." Well, now I've read one in English, and had exactly the same reaction, so I don't think the language is the problem.

There's just not much there, there.
Apr 20, 2016 Steven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most remarkable Inspector Maigret mysteries I have read, and particularly noteworthy in that it comes so early in the series (#5, published in 1931). It's a cat-and-mouse tale in which Maigret knows from the start who the murderer is, but he must marshal sufficient evidence to arrest and convict the man. The title refers to the killer's mind, who is constantly baiting Maigret by feeding him false leads and attempting to lead him astray. The criminal is a supremely confident (a ...more

I was pretty sure before opening to the first page that Simenon wouldn't be my jam. He is descended from a continental line of mystery writers sharing little in common with Agatha Christie. There is no attempt to provide all clues or drum up a sizeable stable of suspects.

Instead, our Detective Maigret has a case and pursues it wherever it leads him. Along the way, Simenon is more interested in exploring just a couple of characters and providing sufficient atmosphere to make the setting a thi
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
This was never my favourite Maigret, but that's not to say it isn't well written. It is, and that's precisely why I didn't enjoy reading it. Now, wait a second, that does make sense. It does when you realise that the reason I didn't enjoy it is because Simenon expresses the difficult aspects of police work so well: following a suspect who doesn't seem to be going anywhere, waiting for something to happen, trusting a hunch when everyone around you is convinced the easy answer is the right one. Ja ...more
Jason Paulios
Sep 06, 2008 Jason Paulios rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Definitely wouldn't have seen this ending coming, one of his darkest and most psychologically complicated Maigret stories that I've read. Most are pretty slick and good enough to just keep reading one after another, this one actually made me stop and think afterwards.
One of the interesting features of Simenon's writing is that he doesn't like "formula" writing. So he varies the way he tells his stories, and this one is a good illustration of that. This book is also a compromise between the more complex cases such as The Late Monsieur Gallet and the simpler cases such as The Grand Banks Café. The basic notion that he solves his crimes by understanding the people involved remains the constant, and here it is particularly striking as he spends several days in t ...more
Filippo Bossolino
May 09, 2014 Filippo Bossolino rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ho trovato curioso il fatto che in questo quinto episodio della saga Maigret, il commissario metta a rischio la propria carriera per salvare la vita ad un condannato a morte, in quanto da lui ritenuto non colpevole dei crimini per cui accusato. Fra l'altro arrestato da Maigret stesso. Ho trovato curioso questo aspetto soprattutto perché nel romanzo precedente Maigret si rende "colpevole" del suicidio di una persona…

Ma al di là dei possibili confronti rispetto agli scritti anteriori, "Una testa
Tony Fitzpatrick
Nov 28, 2015 Tony Fitzpatrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maigret is in Paris - he has successfully solved a brutal murder of two rich women, and the killer is awaiting execution. However he is worried that he has got the wrong man - the case was too easy and to misquote Poirot "there are too many clues". So, he arranges, against the wishes of his superiors, for the convict to escape gaol and hopefully lead him to the real killer. What then follows is a confusing tale of poor folks, rich folks, the Seine, psychology and a clear demonstration of Maigret ...more
Highly enjoyable. Always like a bit of the cat and mouse game between detective and criminal.
Jan 18, 2015 Three rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
credo sia uno dei primi Maigret, e si vede dallo stile non eccelso della scrittura. Frasi brevi, non particolarmente raffinate.
In compenso, Simenon ti butta lì, senza tanto stare ad arzigogolarci sopra e senza spendere parole di elogio per il suo uomo, che Maigret rischia di rovinarsi per correggere un errore di superficialità commesso nel corso di un'indagine che ha portato alla condanna a morte di un innocente. Come se fosse una cosa che capita tutti i giorni.
In più la storia gialla è original
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Simenon was one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, capable of writing 60 to 80 pages per day. His oeuvre includes nearly 200 novels, over 150 novellas, several autobiographical works, numerous articles, and scores of pulp novels written under more than two dozen pseudonyms. Altogether, about 550 million copies of his works have been printed.

He is best known, however, for his 75
More about Georges Simenon...

Other Books in the Series

Maigret (1 - 10 of 75 books)
  • Pietr the Latvian (Maigret, #1)
  • The Carter of 'La Providence' (Maigret, #2)
  • The Late Monsieur Gallet (Maigret, #3)
  • The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien (Maigret, #4)
  • The Yellow Dog (Maigret #6)
  • The Night at the Crossroads (Maigret #7)
  • A Crime in Holland (Maigret #8)
  • The Grand Banks Café (Maigret, #9)
  • The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin (Maigret #10)
  • The Two-Penny Bar (Maigret, #11)

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