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The Cellars of the Majestic

(Inspector Maigret #20)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,248 ratings  ·  118 reviews
'Try to imagine a guest, a wealthy woman, staying at the Majestic with her husband, her son, a nurse and a governess . . . In a suite that costs more than a thousand francs a day . . . At six in the morning, she's strangled, not in her room, but in the basement locker room'

Below stairs at a glamorous hotel on the Champs-Élysées, the workers' lives are worlds away from the
Paperback, UK, 176 pages
Published July 2nd 2015 by Penguin Books (first published 1942)
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Sharon Barrow Wilfong
Just a brief review. A rich American businessman's wife is found strangled in a locker in the basement of the Hotel Majestic. A cook of the hotel finds her and becomes the number one suspect, because it turns out he and the lady have a past together.

As the story plays out we learn who the murdered woman is, who the suspect is, how are they connected and did he in fact murder her. If not, who and why?

I enjoyed this story very much and one of the reasons is that Inspector Maigret is unusually jovi
Ivonne Rovira
Feb 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: especially newcomers to series
Although The Cellars of the Majestic is the 20th novel in Georges Simenon’s series featuring Detective Chief Inspector Maigret, The Cellars of the Majestic is set before Pietr the Latvian, the first-ever Maigret novel. (view spoiler)

Maigret investigates the death of Mimi Clark, the beautiful French-born wife of a Detroit industrialist. Although quite wealthy since her marriage six years ago to the Am
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Good old Maigret. What would I do without him for sleepless nights?
A wealthy American's wife turns up strangled in the staff lockers of a luxury Paris hotel. Whodunit, and why dunit there? The accused is a hapless breakfast cook, but Maigret isn't buying his guilt.

This isn't the first or the last time that the Hotel Majestic and Bar La Cupole is as much a character in a Simenon novel as any one of the humans involved. We hear and see the bustle behind the scenes that creates the luxurious surr
Enter Police superintendent Maigret of the Paris police force after a the wife of a rich American is found strangled and stuffed in a locker in basement of hotel Majestic. The culprit is easily found and when after a second killing happens it is once again the same suspect who is in the picture and he gets arrested. Maigret does not agree with the actions of his colleague and has his own ideas.

A Maigret story generally does not contain any real action, it is more about Maigret finding out what h
Jul 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Simenon is like eating a bar of dark chocolate...not much thought required but intellectually admirable, everything tidy at the end, and always a pleasure.
Dec 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: simenon, maigret
" - Torrance reappears, after being murdered in 1931 (in Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett)!
- Maigret is no longer retired and is back living in the apartment on Boulevard Richard-Lenoir.
- Janvier make a first appearance.
- The Maigrets, once again, have no children.
- The previous Maigret book (in English) - Maigret Returns - was written in 1934. It was the 19th book in the series and, by all appearances, it was destined to be the last. This destiny, gratefully, did not take. This book, number 2
Jul 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys a well-written, enjoyable, police mystery novel set in interwar Paris
This is the second Georges Simenon Maigret novel I've read. Nor will it be the last. In so few words, Simenon creates a rich, multi-textured world with a colorful assortment of characters which is dazzling. There is a murder in a Parisian hotel of a woman who had been staying there with her American husband (and child, governess, and maid), who apparently is estranged from her, enraptured as he is with the governess and apparently set on going off to Rome with her.

But everything isn't as it see
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My edition - Maigret and the Hotel Majestic

Another brilliant example of the genius of Simenon. Maigret doesn't solve his cases like Holmes or Poirot with intellect, he immerses himself in the characters and locations and soaks up the knowledge of what makes them tick. Simenon also writes with the most wonderful economy. There is no padding in his stories, no wasted words. His books are nearly always quite short, around 130 pages but he can say more in those pages than many other writers in much
John Frankham
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-detective
One of the best Maigrets. The depiction of the workings of the hidden world in the bowels of a large hotel, and of the life of the staff is a masterly piece of writing, but then there is the mystery to solve also ...

Maigret investigates the murder of the wife of a wealthy American, whose strangled body is found in a staff locker in the basement of a grand hotel near the Champs-Elysees. Maigret’s inquiries take him from the endless corridors of the Hotel Majestic to the Bois de Boulogne and sun-d
The Maigret books are just perfect. Perfect little slices of Parisian life, and Maigret's mind. Nothing is sugar-coated, but nothing is too challenging, either. And really, Paris in the late '40s/50's - what more is there to say?
Vel Veeter
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the richest of the novels that I’ve read so far in this series, and that’s for a few key reasons. For one, the plot is very good. A woman is found murdered in the bowels of the Majestic hotel. Investigating the murder reveals an underworld kind of system at work in the hotel. This is great because hotel novels were all the rage in the 1920s and 1930s anyway, but often didn’t really explore the underclass. Think about how well Gosford Park and later Downton Abbey balance their narrative. ...more
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, perfect
When, I was in my teens, I tried to read Georges Simenon but found him too slow. Today, I find the pace enchanting and Maigret's humanity uncommon.

Perhaps, because this is my first Maigret, I have been slightly overwhelmed but please try out Simenon. The praise he got from earlier generations of writers was justified. And if you are lucky enough to enjoy him then great satisfaction is to be had in that he wrote 75 Maigret novels along with other novels and short stories. Of course, I have no cl
Jan C
Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france, mystery
Fairly quick read.

Simenon was faster than this reader. I didn't get it. Although all the clues were there.

Loved the locale ... how he just painted the portrait of this magnificent hotel, majestic if you will.

I've only read a couple of his books. Will have to look for more.
Jun 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 2009
Confession time: I never really read much Maigret. But I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. It was a perfect book to read on the beach.
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book I've ever read by Georges Simenon and I have a feeling I'm going to be reading them all soon.
THE HOTEL MAJESTIC was published in 1942, but it seems to take place in a Paris which never heard of Hitler. I have not read about Simenon's life, but given the sympathy for underdogs this novel displays, I can't think the author was indifferent to the Nazi occupation of France. France had been occupied since 1940. Simenon's protagonist, Superintendent Maigret, had been around sin
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
A short take:

The Maigret books often portray interesting corners of 1930s French society, and this installment follows suit by descending into the basement of a luxury hotel, where countless cooks, porters, maids and other staff attend to the needs of their guests. As usual, Simenon captures much with little prose and establishes the setting with sensual detail that reminded me of Orville’s “Down and Out in Paris and London.”

Once the mystery is introduced (a murder!), Maigret immerses himself i
John Frankham
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of my favourite Maigrets, as it shows the 'basement' workings of a grand hotel, in contrast to the luxury above, like the paddling of a swan below the serene top. When a rich American wife is found killed in the staff locker-room, Maigret investigates the results of the two worlds colliding.

The GR blurb:

''Try to imagine a guest, a wealthy woman, staying at the Majestic with her husband, her son, a nurse and a governess . . . In a suite that costs more than a thousand francs a day . . . At si
Jul 03, 2020 added it
Shelves: just-fun
Working my way through the Maigret novels. This was a quick read but satisfying. Simenon excels in setting the mood for a story and letting the reader get to know the characters. One could feel the atmosphere of the cellars of the Paris Majestic Hotel and how far it was from the areas the guests knew and inhabited. The workers in the cellars lived their lives far from the luxury just above their heads but some of them yearned after a taste of that luxury. And they did whatever they could to grab ...more
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having never read Simenon (I know, I know), I chose The Hotel Majestic to report on for the February meeting of my "Dinner Detectives" book group. If you love Poirot-type mysteries (indeed, Poirot was based on Maigret I've been told), you will fly through this. Loved the staccato style, no-nonsense writing and the way Maigret puts the pieces together. Unlike contemporary detective novels that seem written to ultimately become movie scripts, this one was written with succinct character developmen ...more
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favourite Maigrets so far. A great plot and I would never have put it together, although the clues were there.

A great cast of characters and superb all the way through. I felt sorry for one but am happy with his resolution.

It was a but jarring reading that Maigret is living in his apartment as opposed to the Loire valley he moved to in the previous novel, maybe these books are standalone and not really a sequential series. Just assumed little details like that would be continuous.
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a short, but good read. Simenon never disappoints - he is the Belgian version of Agatha Christie.
As has already been pointed out by others - nothing much happens in the Maigret books in terms of action. Simenon, like Christie, was fascinated by the human psyche, something that is very much reflected in his books. If you like smart crime written by smart people for smart people, you'll love this!
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simenon just gets to the nub of the story with his perfect grasp of character, plot, settings & dialogue. No frilly literary pretensions but plenty of reality & truth. In this 20th Maigret Parisian police case, the dogged detective brings justice to all the flawed human beings he comes into contact with in a way that only enhances Maigret's reputation for accepting human follies as an essential part of seething humanity. Great read on a train journey! ...more
Suzanne Fournier
Jul 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Prosper Donge goes to work at the Hotel Majestic, and ends up finding a body in the employee locker room. Was Prosper there by coincidence? At first unlikely, Prosper it turns out has every reason to be guilty, but is he?

An interesting Maigret because from the beginning you know a crime has been committed by don't yet know what. The story begins with the daily routine of Prosper Donge with a running narrative of how the events being told factor into his statement later at the police station.
Colleen Mertens
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this book on the advice of the owner of one of my favorite bookstores(Thanks, Trevor). The story entertained and moved quickly. The action moved at a good pace and the ending wasn't predictable. The characters had pasts with more than met the eye and the chief inspector Maigret is one of my new favorite characters. Looking forward to reading more in the series.
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of the several Maigrets I've read, I think this is my favorite. Why read it in German you ask? I can't read it in French and the German translation reads very well and gives me a chance to do some very enjoyable light reading auf Deutsch (as the Neueschreibweise prescribes, with that new capital D).
The French wife of a nasty American industrialist is found strangled in a basement locker at the fashionable Hotel Majestic. Her ex-lover is a breakfast chef at the hotel, but did he do it? A young prosecuting judge thinks so, but Maigret is not so sure. As usual, Simenon's description of the environment, and mental state of the inspector, makes for a fun and interesting read.
David C Ward
The murder of the French born wife of a rich American leads to a family drama (their son turns out not to be his) and an increasingly complicated blackmail plot. A lot of the action takes place behind the scenes at a great hotel - to emphasize the point that the surface of life hides a lot of mess. No one does claustrophobic, over heated spaces like Simenon.
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who killed the wife of a wealthy American staying at Paris's Majestic Hotel? Maigret's detective talents are stretched as he investigates first the suspect and then the victim who was not whom she seemed.
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Totally hooked on this book by reading the first few sentences. This was my first Maigret novel and I cannot wait to read more. I loved the little 'smile' while Maigret was uncovering layer after layer of the truth. Excellent read.
Paul Jellinek
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This one lacks some of the darkness and gloom of my favorite Maigret books, but Maigret is still Maigret, and that's worth at least four stars.
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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

Other books in the series

Inspector Maigret (1 - 10 of 75 books)
  • Pietr the Latvian
  • The Carter of 'La Providence' (Maigret, #2)
  • The Late Monsieur Gallet (Maigret, #3)
  • The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien (Maigret, #4)
  • 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)

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