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The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien

(Inspector Maigret #4)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  2,240 ratings  ·  228 reviews
 A new translation of a haunting tale about the lengths to which people will go to escape from guilt and book four of the Inspector Maigret series
On a trip to Brussels, Maigret unwittingly causes a man's suicide, but his own remorse is overshadowed by the discovery of the sordid events that drove the desperate man to shoot himself.

Collect this and other novels in the Insp
Paperback, 144 pages
Published February 11th 2014 by Penguin Classics (first published February 1931)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  2,240 ratings  ·  228 reviews

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Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When is a crime not a crime ? When it’s “The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien”

This was Maigret at his most vulnerable but also at his best.

I read my first ever Maigret last year, and my second, and they both made it into my favourite books of 2018. I can tell you now that this book, will be on my list for 2019, without a doubt.

Maigret is drawn into this affair purely by chance and then becomes so enmeshed he has to see it through to the very end. It takes place in France, Belgium and Germany as he t
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Maigret's chief talent doesn't seem to be genius, or method, or physical strength, or even hard work - rather, he's simply interested in people, and why they behave the way they do. ~ novelist Scott Bradfield

Detective Chief Inspector Maigret's curiosity about the peculiar behavior of a shabbily-dressed, middle-aged man waiting in the Gare de Neuschanz train station in 1930 Netherlands leads to a tragic suicide, for which Maigret correctly fears he is at least partly responsible. His sense of gui
Laura Anne
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
This book surprised me. It's a classic of detective fiction, which means that after about 120 pages of classic detective work on the part of Chief Inspector Maigret, I could barely keep my eyelids up! Bored - yes, immensely - and yet, I am so completely onboard with Simenon's agenda, or perhaps with a particular theme in the several of this book. The theme that completely caught my sympathy was Maigret's eye for, and understanding of poverty: one of the men in the group he is following says:

Feb 11, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Poverty, trauma and guilt.

Maigret chances upon a man who does something that he both witnesses and is shocked by. This event, and those leading up to it, with Maigret directly connected begin this story.

As with Inspector Maigret through his creator Georges Simenon, the reader is treated to solid, measured but agile police work that builds a trail from pieces of evidence and information. It is not clear why things have happened the way they have; there are some discoveries that only complicate
Nancy Oakes
The more Maigret novels I read, the more I believe I've made a good choice in reading the entire series. I am only through book four and I'm already craving the next one.

This time I'm linking my thoughts on this book directly to my reading journal where I talk about it in conjunction with the other two I've just recently finished, The Carter of 'La Providence' and The Late Monsieur Gallet.

Simenon is a master of human nature, and considering I read mainly
Paul Secor
John Lanchester, in his excellent article, "Maigret's Room", in the London Review of Books (I hope that folks can read this without being subscribers) writes:
"When I tell people I'm a fan, I'm often asked which I like best; although it's a good and simple question, it stumps me. They are eerily alike in quality - no especial highs, no especial lows."

I agree with that in general, but occasionally a Maigret novel stands out, and this early one does that. It
Ivonne Rovira
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: thoughtful mystery lovers
The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien (also published as Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets ) begins with Detective Chief Inspector Jules Maigret following a French suspect in Germany, one who commits suicide within the first few pages. Maigret immediately realizes that, without meaning to, he has caused a certain Louis Genet to shoot himself in the mouth.

This terrible turn of event leads Maigret to try to discover more about this Louis Genet — who turns out to be traveling under an assumed name. As Ma
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Why did a poor man post 30,000 francs to himself?
Why did he shoot himself after misplacing some old blood stained clothes?
Why did the dapper businessman Joseph Van Damme show such an interest in the dead man?
Why are newspaper and police records of February 15 missing?
Why did a man hang himself?
Why is Van Damme always ahead of the Inspector?

Writer Georges Simenon has composed a intricate mystery which does not need;
car chases,
femme fatale.

There is a however a thoroughly desc
Deb Jones
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Maigret has an unusual dilemma in this tale: his conscience is bothering him about a suicide he's witnessed and is certain he has caused. The man who killed himself was using a fake passport, dressed shabbily and acting oddly, but was he a criminal? Maigret finds himself delving deeper and deeper into the mystery surrounding this man -- and examining his own conscience along the way. ...more
Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
On a train journey, Inspector Maigret espies a shifty, nervous young man guarding a battered old suitcase with odd intensity. Maigret judges the man suspicious and so follows him, then at an opportune moment let’s a strange curiosity gets the better of him and switches the man’s suitcase for a lookalike. Later though he witnesses the man open the new case and be so horrified by what he finds – or what he doesn’t find – that he immediately blows his brains out. But when Maigret opens the real cas ...more
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoying reading the Maigret books in their original order (and not the slightly different order of the excellent new Penguin translations). I don't know why that feels important. It probably isn't significant yet the feeling prevails nonetheless.

I love Simenon's bleak, sparse, yet superbly descriptive, writing style. It makes me believe this is how things were in the late 20's/early 30's. He isn't afraid to highlight the prevailing poverty of the age, and the frequently dark and grim
Dec 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
Georges Simenon is the antidote to all those fussy little mysteries where everything is so clear-cut, and all the detective has to do is waltz between a few suspects until he or she finds the guilty party in a final dash of brilliance. No, there is a kind of Gallic fog about Simenon's Inspector Maigret. Maigret is French to a fault. We start out Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets with a few very discordant facts, and very little idea of whether a crime was committed or, if so, the nature of that cr ...more
Nov 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Maigret was tall and wide, particularly broad shouldered, solidly built, and his run-of-the-mill clothes emphasized his peasant stockiness. His features were coarse, and his eyes seemed as still and dull as a cow's. In this he resembled certain figures out of children's nightmares, those monstrously big blank-faced creatures that bear down upon sleepers as if to crush them. There was something implacable and inhuman about him that suggested a pachyderm plodding inexorably towards his goal.
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: georges-simenon
Another great story with an unexpected ending. Something you would never see in a modern crime story. Maigret see’s a poor man post 30000 francs and his curiosity is aroused. On impulse he follows him and swaps his suitcase for a duplicate. Then in Bremen at a cheap hotel Maigret watches through a keyhole the man open the case and in despair shoot himself after seeing it is not his suitcase.

Maigret feels remorse at this sudden suicide and finds in the suitcase he swapped just a suit of old bloo
David Highton
Maigret follows a suspicious character to Bremen and witnesses his suicide - he determines to find out why, and the back story takes him across Belgium and France. Quite a strong psychological strain runs through this book, with Maigret's doggedness putting on the pressure. ...more
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very unique investigation by Maigret where more than one guilty person tries to kill him. The trail is fraught with someone just a few steps ahead of him, destroying evidence from a crime of 10 years gone. This one adds to Maigret's wisdom and stature. ...more
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french, mysteries, kindle
Compelling and unusual mystery. This early book is the best of the admittedly few Maigrets I have read so far!
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An early Maigret that doesn't disappoint. Simenon himself was a bit of an enigma and the way he writes Maigret in these early books probably tells you a lot more about how Simenon saw himself than it does about the man who would go on to star in over 70 detective novels. And no more so than this highly enjoyable read.

This is probably as much of a psychological study as Simenon could make his Maigret novels; unlike his other work, his roman durs, Jules Maigret inhabits the lighter side of Simenon
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I quite enjoyed this one, I agree with another reviewer not so much a who-dunit as a why-dunit.

I was curious to see where it would go and it reached a satisfying conclusion. I am very much enjoying this series of books and I can see similarities between these and Marco Vichi's Inspector Bordelli series. So far the books have been short and sweet, hopefully further along there is longer ones to get my teeth into. 71 more to go and I can't wait to enjoy them
Lady Delacour
Mar 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This is my 4th George Simenon book.
Each book just gets better.
Narrator Gareth Armstrong has a great voice.
His female voices are always interesting.
Clean except for one word of Foul Language.
My second Simenon. But a rather expected story...
CAST- 4 stars: Maigret "still clenched his pipe between his teeth, but it had gone out. And his fleshy face, which seemed punched out of dense clay by strong thumbs, bore an expression bordering on fear or disaster." Maigret should be afraid as he may have caused the mysterious Louis Jeunet to commit suicide. And this guy named Van Damme: why does he show up at the morgue to see Jeunet's body? Three other c
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
The Inspector Maigret books by Georges Simenon are to say the least, exquisite in their wake and poignant in their sweep. The third book in the series, “The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien” is no exception. Possessing un-envisaged twists and unpredictable turns, Inspector Maigret’s strange trysts – experienced within the geographies of Belgium and France- with three peculiarly intense individuals, “The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien” is an absolute ripper.

The book begins in the most non-decrepit of set
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
Jan 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was an unusual story, in that, it did not follow the usual formula of the "whodunnit".

Inspector Maigret happens upon a man in a train in Belgium. He was there for other business, but this man caught his eye. This man is skeletal, grimy, wearing thread bare clothes and a haunted expression on his face.

On a whim, he follows the man around. He sees the man mail himself a large sum of money and also that he carries a cheap faux leather suitcase. A suitcase that Maigret has exchanged with his o
May 26, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

This is my favorite Maigret thus far. I really enjoyed this one and it really deserved a 3 and a half stars from me. This is the 4th book in the series and I have about 71 more to go.
Barbara Nutting
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Now that’s what I call noir!! I liked this one better than the last - no locks, towpaths or nautical terms. This was just a good old fashioned detective story.
Dec 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Staggeringly good. If Simenon was not already one of my favourite authors, he certainly is now. Given the moral complexity of his novels, it's hard to believe Maigret was not only intended for but actually found a mass audience. I mean, right out of the gate in Chapter One the hero inadvertently causes a man to commit suicide. The remainder of the novella, as with the two others I've read, is concerned with the uncovering of a deeply broken life; not exactly the raw-raw hero-can-do-no-wrong kind ...more
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
In The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien by Georges Simenon, Detective Chief Inspector Maigret is on a train when he sees a man acting curiously. So Maigret follows the man to Brussels, where he gets a room adjoining the first man’s room in a cheap motel. Spying through the keyhole, Maigret sees the man put a gun to his mouth and pull the trigger.

Read the rest of this review and other fun, geeky articles at Fangirl Nation
David C Ward
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe the strangest Maigret I’ve read and maybe even the strangest suspense thriller. Maigret’s curiosity instigates a suicide and an almost accidental investigation into the identity of the dead man reveals a crime committed 10 years ago by a band of students. It’s a series of personal encounters and collisions until the ‘criminals’ break under the psychological pressure of being pursued. Practically no actual detective work or even interrogations. Atmospheric of early 20th century Europe but v ...more
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
as I read through this, I found myself appreciating the psychological quality of the narrative. I found the ending of the story somehow simultaneously maudlin and surprisingly satisfactory. it's very dramatic - as are the scenes where Maigret dashes through Paris, trying to get to newspaper archives before someone else gets there first to rip out the pages. Simenon creates situations that he can describe in lovely, curious ways. ...more
Dec 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Second sad story in a row. I guess you can pity criminals here too. Only I'm not sure they are even criminals but they were sufficiently punished by life for their crime. This is the story about four sad men half of which went crazy from unbearable guilt.
Maigret here is always late until he comes on time.
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Georges Joseph Christian Simenon (1903 – 1989) was a Belgian writer. A prolific author who published nearly 500 novels and numerous short works, Simenon is best known as the creator of the fictional detective Jules Maigret.
Although he never resided in Belgium after 1922, he remained a Belgian citizen throughout his life.

Simenon was one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, capable

Other books in the series

Inspector Maigret (1 - 10 of 75 books)
  • Pietr the Latvian (Maigret #1)
  • The Carter of 'La Providence' (Maigret, #2)
  • The Late Monsieur Gallet (Maigret, #3)
  • A Man's Head (Maigret #5)
  • 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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