J.'s Reviews > The Venice Train

The Venice Train by Georges Simenon
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's review
Mar 20, 2015

really liked it
bookshelves: simenon, risky-business, mystery, strange-cargo

Without realizing it, he started to think of that fortune as his own. He hadn't got as far as to wonder what he would do with it. He didn't have any plans. He was still quite vague about it all. It wasn't entirely his, but it was possible, if events were to take a particular turn, that it might become his.
Not by theft. Or by any dishonest act. He would be obliged to keep the money, that was all, just as he was obliged to hide it somewhere today. The prospect was both seductive, and agonizing ...
Exquisitely pared-down suspense from Simenon about a mild-mannered businessman driven to distraction by a simple interaction on a train-- that verges into an existential crisis and elemental breakdown.

Ah, bon soir, Patricia Highsmith; and there are also echoes of Poe, Graham Greene, other 'unwelcome-realization' practitioners... Although there is nothing gothic or noir about it. One of the blasé niceties of this little monograph is the upbeat, sunny europe-on-holiday vibe that underlies the tricky business at hand.

Simenon has no problem allowing the natural tendencies and inclinations of his everyman full control of the narrative. He can paint the scene or sketch a character in a few deceptive strokes. There is an effortless, magnetic pull toward the conclusion, and a five star ride all the way along the tracks...

But that destination, without giving it away, is what pulls that final star rating back to four; the end of this novel is a bit like the Monsieur broke a key on his typewriter, and decided, ah, well enough now as ever, it's done anyway. Or as if he was only contracted for novella length, and declined to go a step further. Like an unfinished sonata that, just, stops.

Still, recommended, a don't-miss bravura outing from the maestro.
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09/22/2014 marked as: read

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