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Inspector Maigret #20

The Cellars of the Majestic

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'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 luxury enjoyed by the wealthy guests. When their worlds meet, Maigret discovers a tragic story of ambition, blackmail and unrequited love.

170 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1942

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About the author

Georges Simenon

2,351 books1,770 followers
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 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 novels and 28 short stories featuring Commissaire Maigret. The first novel in the series, Pietr-le-Letton, appeared in 1931; the last one, Maigret et M. Charles, was published in 1972. The Maigret novels were translated into all major languages and several of them were turned into films and radio plays. Two television series (1960-63 and 1992-93) have been made in Great Britain.

During his "American" period, Simenon reached the height of his creative powers, and several novels of those years were inspired by the context in which they were written (Trois chambres à Manhattan (1946), Maigret à New York (1947), Maigret se fâche (1947)).

Simenon also wrote a large number of "psychological novels", such as La neige était sale (1948) or Le fils (1957), as well as several autobiographical works, in particular Je me souviens (1945), Pedigree (1948), Mémoires intimes (1981).

In 1966, Simenon was given the MWA's highest honor, the Grand Master Award.

In 2005 he was nominated for the title of De Grootste Belg (The Greatest Belgian). In the Flemish version he ended 77th place. In the Walloon version he ended 10th place.

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5 stars
358 (20%)
4 stars
753 (42%)
3 stars
552 (31%)
2 stars
79 (4%)
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15 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 155 reviews
Profile Image for Adrian.
562 reviews197 followers
October 6, 2020
Review to follow on the morrow

Again, another really enjoyable Maigret, atmospheric, full of intrigue, full of Paris, and just soo French. Focussing on the murder of the wife of a wealthy American staying at the Hotel Majestic, Maigret haunts the cellars of the Hotel, where a myriad of chefs, waiters, cleaners and other hotel staff inhabit a twilight world of glass boxes.
As the investigation continues all clues point to the Hotel's chief coffee maker, Maigret though is not convinced, and delves deeper into everyone's background. In a book that has Maigret standing to accept a punch from a suspect, jumping on a bicycle to question a suspect, ignoring the advice (order) from local judiciary and delivering a real haymaker on a suspect, it also shows his sensitive and caring side when i comes to the denouement.
I really enjoyed this book but it didn't get 5 stars simply because I felt the last few pages almost felt rushed. A shame as it had been so atmospheric up to that point, that I could almost taste the pastis.
Profile Image for Sharon Barrow Wilfong.
1,117 reviews3,943 followers
August 20, 2018
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 jovial throughout the story. He seems to enjoy himself as he uncovers the facts and finally discovers the murder.
Profile Image for Tim Orfanos.
342 reviews33 followers
November 8, 2020
Δικαίως, το συγκεκριμένο μυθιστόρημα του Σιμενόν με τον επιθεωρητή Μαιγκρέ θεωρείται ότι είχε τέτοια επιδραστικότητα σε σημείο που να έχει αποτελέσει το έναυσμα για τη δημιουργία φημισμένων ταινιών και τηλεοπτικών σειρών ('Downton Abbey', 'Έγκλημα στο Γκόσφορντ Παρκ', 'Upstairs, Downstairs'), γιατί είναι, ίσως, το πιο κοσμοπολίτικο βιβλίο του.

Σχεδόν σε όλο το μυθιστόρημα τονίζονται οι διαφορές και η πάλ�� μεταξύ των ανώτερων και κατώτερων κοινωνικών τάξεων, στοιχείο καταλυτικό για την εποχή που γράφτηκε (1942), ενώ οι πληροφορίες προετοιμασίας των γευμάτων των επισκεπτών του πολυτελούς ξενοδοχείου από το προσωπικό της κουζίνας είναι άκρως ενδιαφέρουσες έως και διασκεδαστικές.

Ένα αρνητικό στοιχείο θα έλεγα ότι είναι η κάπως προβλέψιμη διαλεύκανση του μυστηρίου (τουλάχιστον από ένα σημείο και πέρα), αν και εμπεριέχει μια μικρή ανατροπή.

Προτεινόμενο ως καλοκαιρινό ανάγνωσμα και όχι μόνο.

Βαθμολογία: 4,2/5 ή 8,4/10.

Θα γίνει και εκτενέστερη κριτική.
Profile Image for Rosenkavalier.
230 reviews93 followers
August 29, 2019
Il ritorno di Maigret

I sotterranei del Majestic segna il ritorno di Simenon alle vicende del Commissario Maigret dopo otto anni di pausa, durante i quali scrive alcuni dei miei romanzi preferiti (Il viaggiatore del giorno dei morti, Gli intrusi, La vedova Couderc, La verità su Bebé Donge).

Non ho idea delle ragioni di questo ritorno a un personaggio che aveva cominciato a stargli stretto, probabilmente ragioni editoriali, dato il grande successo del ciclo (che cominciava ad interessare molto anche il cinema).

L'azione torna al Majestic, prestigioso hotel parigino che già aveva ospitato parte dell'azione del primo romanzo (Pietr il lettone), con una storia ingarbugliata che verte, come quasi sempre, su un passato che non passa e che, quando torna, travolge tutti i suoi protagonisti.

Nulla di male in sé, ma lo svolgimento non mi ha lasciato quasi niente, se non il consueto piacere di certe atmosfere e di certe finezze di cui Simenon disponeva con prodigalità sospetta, disseminandole anche in lavori minori come questo.

Per me i Maigret sono un agile riempitivo tra una lettura e un'altra, non è saggio pretendere troppo da un riempitivo e, d'altra parte, ogni tanto si pesca qualche perla. Non è stato questo il caso.
Profile Image for Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all).
1,970 reviews178 followers
August 6, 2017
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 surroundings provided for the wealthy guests. Maigret uses his stolidity, silence and the humble look that so often infuriates Mme Maigret to great effect, whether it's questioning a raddled, addicted prostitute or dealing with his superiors. I enjoyed the sidelight thrown on the couple's relationship as Maigret finds himself facing a bilingual case, but he's not alone; the examining magistrate can't speak much English, either. I was amused by the translator's rendition of Maigret's confusion when faced with the to him, meaningless sounds of another language: "We you we you well well." Qu'est-ce qu'il dit?

Written in 1942, though publication was delayed due to the war. The book is of course set in peacetime, but perhaps that's why food is so important in the "reveal scene", during which Maigret devours a large steak, a slice of roast beef, three beers and three orders of chips. "Nothing could keep him from enjoying his chips. They were unbelievable, crispy outside, melting within." Dear old Maigret.

Reading this installment was a delight, if also a rather surreal experience; having seen the Bruno Cremer TV episode just recently, I was aware that the screenplay followed the book as closely as Maigret follows his suspects.
Profile Image for Ivonne Rovira.
1,899 reviews198 followers
March 3, 2016
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.

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 American Oswald Clark, Mimi turns up strangled in the cellar of the Hotel Majestic, a ritzy hotel off the Champs-Élysées — a place frequented by the hotel’s staff, not the well-to-do guests, and especially not at 6 o’clock in the morning, when she was killed.

Despite some stumbling on the part of a naïve examining magistrate, in the end, Maigret ensures that justice is done. Another most satisfying novel for longtime fans and newcomers alike.
Profile Image for Mark.
1,325 reviews65 followers
January 23, 2018
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 happened in the lives of the people involved in in the crime. And the solution comes from a rather different direction as expected. This might not be the best Maigret tale but it is an easy and quick read.

A very nice in betweener.
Profile Image for The Frahorus.
819 reviews83 followers
March 6, 2020
Maigret è tornato

Ventesima indagine per il nostro commissario di Parigi Maigret, indagine che forse Simenon non pensava assolutamente di scrivere visto che col precedente Maigret lo aveva tranquillamente mandato in pensione. Come spiegato, egli aveva fatto ciò perché voleva smettere di scrivere altri libri sul Nostro commissario, ma i fan non era per nulla d'accordo e così, dopo cinque anni di silenzio, eccolo uscire con questa nuova indagine: ritorna dunque Maigret, più in forma che mai! Non a caso Simenon ambienta questo giallo nello stesso albergo del primo romanzo con Maigret (Pietr il Lettone), come una sorta di omaggio e di ripartenza.

Stavolta viene ritrovata morta una donna facoltosa nei sotterranei di un hotel francese e, il giorno dopo, anche il portiere dello stesso. I sospetti ricadono subito sul barista Prosper Donge, colui che aveva ritrovato il cadavere della donna e per questo viene arrestato. Maigret però non è molto convinto che sia stato il barista a commettere quel duplice omicidio e inizia a scavare sul passato della donna.

Che dire, sono felice che Simenon abbia avuto la voglia di ritornare a scrivere delle inchieste di Maigret, e da 19 scopriremo arriverà a scriverne ben oltre 70! Questa indagine non mi ha colpito più di tanto, ma le atmosfere che solo lui riesce a pennellarci sono a dir poco eccezionali, soprattutto colpisce quel mondo dei servi che si muovono, come tante formiche ordinate, nei sotterranei dell'hotel lussuoso per accontentare e ben servire i ricchi viziati che vi abitano di sopra. Una piccola curiosità: avevamo lasciato Maigret, come avevo già scritto, in pensione, quindi come è possibile che qui è normalmente tornato in servizio? Secondo me, e credo di non sbagliare, il romanzo precedente è ambientato nel futuro, non ci vedo altra spiegazione plausibile. Ipotesi che si rafforza perché ho letto che nei prossimi romanzi Maigret sarà alcune volte in pensione, quindi il nostro autore ha scelto di alternare indagini del presente con altre future, tutto qua.
Profile Image for Andrea.
Author 6 books177 followers
July 13, 2011
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.
Profile Image for Constantinos Capetanakis.
104 reviews38 followers
October 24, 2021
Ένα από τα μέτρια βιβλία του Σιμενόν με τον Μαιγκρέ. Δεν κατανοώ τις πολύ καλές κριτικές εδώ, παρόλο που έχω διαβάσει πάνω από 40-50 βιβλία του Σιμενόν και είναι από τους πολύ αγαπημένους μου. Η ευκολία και ευστοχία των παρατηρήσεών του, κοινωνικών και μη, είναι γνωστή, το κάνει όπως εμείς οι υπόλοιποι αναπνέουμε. Εδώ όμως, μιλάμε για κάτι γραμμένο στο πόδι, με πολλά κενά και άλματα λογικής και φασόν τρόπους περιγραφής και σκιαγράφησης χαρακτήρων. Διαβάζεται ��ε ένα απόγευμα, ή σε μία όχι ιδιαίτερα μεγάλη πτήση.

Μην παρεξηγηθώ, ευχάριστο είναι, Σιμενόν είναι, κάτι που σημαίνει ότι υπερτερεί σχεδόν όλων στο είδος του, απλά υπάρχουν τόσα πολλά απείρως ��αλύτερα με αυτόν τον καταπληκτικό τύπο Μαιγκρέ, για να μην αναφερθώ στα "σκληρά" βιβλία του Σιμενόν τα περισσότερα εκ των οποίων είναι top level.

Όσο για την υποτιθέμενη "προδρομική συγγένεια", αναφορά στο οπισθόφυλλο αλλά και εδώ νομίζω, με το Gosford Park / Downtown Abby, έχω δεί μόνο το πρώτο και μπορώ να πω ότι είναι όντως υποτιθέμενη. Ο Σιμενόν ήταν μεν πρόδρομος άπειρων κοινωνικών παρατηρήσεων, και με ελάχιστες πινελιές έφτιαχνε ένα ολόκληρο κοινωνικό πλαίσιο, αλλά δεν χρειάζονται υπερβολές προκειμενου να διαβαστεί ένα από τα αδιάφορα βιβλία του.
Profile Image for Manolis V.
102 reviews14 followers
January 16, 2021
Πρώτη φορά διάβαζα Σιμενόν. Το βρήκα πολύ ενδιαφέρον. Δομημένη ιστορία, στιβαροί χαρακτήρες, σε βάζει στο κλίμα της εποχής. Απολαυστικό αστυνομικό με ήρωα τον Επιθεωρητή Μαιγκρέ. Ιδανικό για χαλάρωση του μυαλού από άλλα διαβάσματα.
Profile Image for Dato.
106 reviews16 followers
August 19, 2021
Գրադարանում դետեկտիվ նոր գործի փնտրտուքներով էի, աշխատակիցներն առաջարկեցին Ժորժ Սիմենոնի ««Մաժեստիկ» հյուրանոցի նկուղներում»-ը։ Ասացին՝ շատ լավն է, կհավանես։ Բայց չհավանեցի, ավելին՝ մինչև վերջ չկարողացա գնալ, շատ ձանձրալի էր։
Profile Image for George.
2,190 reviews
April 12, 2021
3.5 stars. A crime fiction novel where Chief Inspector Maigret is required to solve the murder of Mimi Clark. Mimi was married to a wealthy American, Oswald Clark. She was strangled and her body left in a basement locker at the Majestic Hotel in Paris. Oswald and Mimi Clark were guests at the hotel. The plot is quite complicated with a number of linked characters.

This book is the 21st in the Maigret series. First published in France in 1942.
Profile Image for Mosco.
385 reviews38 followers
October 16, 2018
"riletto" in audiolibro. Camminando non si può ascoltare roba troppo impegnativa :-)
Profile Image for Amaranta.
548 reviews203 followers
April 28, 2020
Maigret dimostra di trovarsi perfettamente a proprio agio anche nel gran mondo. E di riuscire a cogliere le sfumature di quello che è il substrato che lo accompagna.
Piacevole lettura.
Profile Image for KOMET.
1,087 reviews128 followers
July 2, 2013
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 seems. It's far from an open and shut case. Immerse yourself and be dazzled as Maigret goes to work to find the real culprit.
Profile Image for Tempo de Ler.
729 reviews95 followers
May 22, 2017
'Maigret e o Cadáver no Armário' proporciona-nos umas boas horas de entretenimento.

Divertido, rápido e interessante, o enredo é conduzido com proficiência e simplicidade. Tendo em conta a frugalidade de Simenon com as palavras, é notável como o escritor consegue criar um carismático lote de personagens e uma atmosfera tão vívida e atraente para o leitor.

O final é satisfatório e algo inesperado (…o que poderá dever-se à sua ligeira orientação para o rebuscado…). Este é o meu primeiro contacto com Maigret e posso dizer que fiquei satisfeita com o resultado.
Profile Image for PuPilla.
791 reviews83 followers
May 25, 2022
A Majestic pincéi, milyen rejtelmes cím, milyen Maigret-mentes cím! De persze Maigret történet ez is, méghozzá igen szövevényes, régi és új bűntényeket ötvöző,és felszínre hozó sztori.
Kedvenc felügyelőnk főleg konyakot és sört iszik a nyomozás közben, biciklizik is - bár közel nem annyit, mint a Dél Keresztjében -, sőt, el is bóbiskol (nem, nem a biciklin).

A Majestic Hotel pincehelyiségei olyanok, akár egy akvárium, üvegfalakkal, sok "kalickával" de mégis labirintus-szerű a sok lépcsővel, szekrényekkel, ételfelvonókkal. Meghatározott, szigorú rendben történik minden, érkeznek a cédulák, mennek a rendelések, mindenki óramű pontossággal teszi a dolgát. A gépezet monotonitását mégis meg tudja törni valami... Prosper Donge késve érkezik egy defektes bicikligumi miatt... Mi lesz ennek a jelentősége? Az egyik alagsori szekrényben a szálló egyik előkelő vendége van, holtan. Aztán képbe kerül néhány ledér táncosnő is, Gigi, Mimi, Charlotte... És bár Maigret látszólag nem sok mindent csinál, azért ahogy az lenni szokott, szép lassan felsejlik a ködből, szivarfüstből - és a múltból - a megoldás.

Tetszett. :)
Profile Image for chhaya.
192 reviews21 followers
April 19, 2020
Kellemesen nyugodt és lassú nyomozás a kettős gyilkos után. Bár néha úgy tűnik, mintha Maigret nem is csinálna semmit, csak fel-alá sétálva figyelné a körülötte zajló eseményeket… A fogaskerekek mégis járnak, és az apró-cseprő elejtett információkból végül összeáll az igazság. Kicsit hiányoltam, hogy mi is belássunk nyomozónk gondolatmenetébe és ne csak a végeredményt kapjuk szinte tálcán… De így is tetszett, hozta a megszokott szintet.
145 reviews25 followers
March 9, 2019
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 clue as to their availability in English at the moment.

And, for a change, to read detective fiction in a setting other than Britain, Ireland, USA or Scandinavia is quite refreshing, especially as the French system of investigation with the close 'cooperation' between the police and the magistrates is quite different.
Profile Image for Mikee.
605 reviews
December 17, 2012
" - 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 20, did not appear until 1942, but led to a total of 75 wonderful Maigret novels in English.

All those things said, this is a basic whodunit mystery. A bit complex, it must have been fun to write. As always, Maigret forms sympathetic relationships with the underdogs, scorns the rich and gets his man."
Profile Image for John.
648 reviews31 followers
March 23, 2015
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 longer books.

Brilliant stuff! Highly recommended.
Profile Image for John Frankham.
658 reviews7 followers
November 4, 2016
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-drenched Cannes, into a world of prostitution, drug addiction, and blackmail.
Profile Image for Grace.
143 reviews3 followers
January 19, 2014
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?
Profile Image for Claudiu.
395 reviews
July 19, 2020
incet, dar sigur, incep sa il indragesc pe Maigret, mai ales ca imi place din ce in ce mai mult scriitura lui Georges Simenon, pe care il gasesc mult mai consecvent din punct de vedere stilistic decat pe Agatha Christie.
Profile Image for Antonis.
106 reviews1 follower
December 13, 2018
Από τα καλύτερα του Simenon με τον επιθεωρητή Maigret. Ατμοσφαιρικό, μυστηριώδες, ζωντανό. Ως συνήθως, η πλοκή έρχεται σε δεύτερη μοίρα. Σε κερδίζουν οι περιγραφές, οι χαρακτήρες, η εποχή.
Νομίζω είναι ένα καλό βιβλίο να ξεκινήσει κανείς τη γνωριμία του με τον Maigret.
Profile Image for Peggy.
Author 1 book20 followers
November 27, 2021
Fun, fast read. Great characters; very atmospheric.
Profile Image for Tyler Jones.
1,555 reviews75 followers
April 17, 2022
Structured much more like a conventional mystery than most Maigret novels, and much more quickly paced, this was a particularly fun one to read. There are moments between Maigret and a presiding judge which are lively and comic, and the cast of characters is bigger and more colourful than in a typical Maigret. One the best in my opinion.
Profile Image for Geoffreyjen.
Author 2 books16 followers
January 9, 2020
De retour à ce vrai Maigret, le bon vieux, en pleine possession de ses moyens, je délectais ce bouquin admirable, avec ses milles détails de procédures d’enquête, et sa résolution brilliante qu’on ne devinait point. C’est le Maigret qu’on aime, opaque, taciturne, vif d’esprit avec ses manieres et façons de faire, ses demis de biere, et ses “qu’est-ce qu’ils disent” pour les anglais... magique! J’ai adoré! Maigret, the real Maigret, with his taciturn appearance, his opacity, his lively intelligence, and his mastery over police procedures, Maigret is here in full force, carrying out his investigation and revealing its unsuspected resolution, despite the fact that many of its components were delivered to us ahead of time. I loved this book, from its moody beginnings to its salacious end!!
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