This is the first in a series of posts in Open Investigations that will look at various crime fiction, mystery, and other writers from past and present whom I read and admire and who have influenced my own writing.

Simenon and the Maigret Novels

I have a collection of old and well-worn novels that I treasure, and among them are many of the Maigret novels by Georges Simenon. I re-read these periodically just to remind myself how good stories survive the test of time.

Georges Simenon, as you may already know, was a Belgian citizen and the prolific author of 75 novels and 28 short stories featuring the character Maigret. According to the Maigret Forum, the character of Maigret is second only to Sherlock Holmes in world-wide recognition as a fictional detective.

Maigret is a commissaire of the Paris criminal investigation division. He is an average, slightly overweight man with no pretensions to greatness. In fact, he's much closer spiritually to John Le Carre's George Smiley than to Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot. He recognizes human frailities, but does not let them distract him from pursuing the guilty. His stories are told in a straightforward, yet elegant prose.

Maigret novels are not whodunits: secondary to the question of who committed the crime is the journey of understanding that arrives at an answer. The novels are naturalistic and psychological explorations of the human condition.

Influence on My Own Writing

Central to the Maigret novels is the victimology. As Maigret undertakes his journey of understanding, he painstakingly researches and recreates the victim's life. He gives voice to those who are no longer capable of speaking for themselves. To me this is the central appeal of the Maigret novels. Although many modern crime fiction writers focus on telling the perpetrator's story as an explanation of the crime, I prefer to look at the victim. This is why I reconstructed Marcie's life and told her story in Marcie's Murder.

Internet Resources

If you would like to [re]acquaint yourself with the world of Maigret, there are a number of invaluable Internet sources, starting with the Maigret Forum at, which is billed as "an open bulletin board for notices, opinions, information and discussion related to Maigret and Simenon."

Happy Reading!
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Published on February 06, 2013 09:41 • 557 views • Tags: agatha-christie, crime-fiction, goerge-smiley, hercule-poirot, jon-le-carre, maigret, maigret-forum, marcie-s-murder, mystery, simenon

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Open Investigations

Michael J.  McCann
A blog that explores crime fiction writing and other topics of interest to both readers and authors.
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