Jun 07, 09
Read in June, 2009, read count: maybe 3
Georges Simenon's stories of Inspector Maigret, taken as a series, rate a full five stars. Translated from the French, they are in a sense police procedurals -- Maigret orders his subordinates to fulfill the routines of detection, and he himself reports within the rigid Parisian chain of command -- but because Maigret takes such a unique, oblique approach to unraveling the crimes, the stories are much more than footwork. Simenon's non-Maigret works are usually described as "psychological novels," and he can't resist a bit of psychology in these, either; there are always fresh characters in the Maigret stories whose motivations make them who they are. Maigret moves quietly toward the solutions, liking to immerse himself in the situations until eventually it becomes clear to him what must have happened. The writing style is terse, readable, conversational, and the books are brief enough to be reasonably described as long stories rather than short novels. When I was going through them for the first time, I might read several in a row. For mystery fans, they are a must, and for other readers I expect they would be a pleasure as well.
The BBC adaptations starring Michael Gambon are also highly recommended. This particular story was done with Minnie Driver as a night club dancer in Montmartre who knows more than is good for her. Whether taken in text or on video, it would serve as a good introduction to our cast of characters.