Review: The Yellow Dog by Georges Simenon


Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Penguin Classics, 2013. Format: Paperback. Translated by Linda Asher. ISBN: 9780141393476. (134 pages)

9780141393476 The Yellow Dog was originally published in French by Fayard in 1931 as Le chien jaune. The first English translation by Geoffrey Sainsbury was published by George Routledge & Sons in 1939 as A Face for a Clue and was reissued in 1980 by Severn House as Maigret and the Concarneau Murders. The current translation, Maigret and the Yellow Dog, by Linda Asher was first published in 1987 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich and with minor revisions was published in Great Britain as The Yellow Dog by Penguin Classics in 2003. This edition with further minor revisions was published by Penguin Classics in 2013.

The action takes place in Concarneau, a seaside village in the Finistère department of Brittany in north-western France. Concarneau is a summer resort very visited during the holiday season though thinly populated in the winter months. The story begins one November evening when a man leaves the Admiral Hotel after having spent a good time with some friends. His walk, slightly unsteady, implies that he’s been drinking more than necessary. After several attempts, he fails to light his cigar because of the wind, takes refuge by a doorway, loses his balance and falls backwards. A customs guard on duty has seen it all and is ready to help him when he realises that the man has been wounded by a shot fired from the other side of the doorway. The wounded man, Monsieur Mostaguen, turns out to be a distinguish citizen, ‘Concarneau’s biggest wine dealer, a good fellow, without an enemy in the world’. Shortly after, an awful dog, a strange yellow animal, is first seen roaming around the surrounding area. Chief Inspector Jules Maigret, assigned to Rennes to reorganise its mobile unit over the last month, is called by Concarneau’s mayor to investigate and comes to town with Leroy, a young inspector with whom he has not worked before. Maigret installs himself at the Admiral Hotel, the best in town. Maigret himself sums up as follows what happens next:

‘The following day, Saturday, I enter the café. After introductions, I am about to drink an aperitif with Messieurs Michoux, Le Pommeret, and Jean Servières, when the doctor suddenly becomes suspicious of something in his glass. Analysis shows the Pernod bottle to be poisoned.’

‘Sunday morning, Jean Servières disappears. His car is found, with bloodstains, not far from his home. Before this discovery, the Brest Beacon receives a report of the events nicely calculated to sow panic in Concarneau.’

‘Then Sevières is seen first in Brest, latter in Paris, where he seems to be hiding and to which he has apparently gone of his own free will.’

‘The same day, Sunday, Monsieur Le Pommerest has an aperitif with the doctor, returns to his home, has dinner there and dies afterwards, from the effects of strychnine poisoning.’

The mayor insists that Maigret makes an arrest, any arrest. Meanwhile the local police arrests a huge drifter that was seen loitering around the area, although the vagrant manages to escape. Maigret, under pressure, sends the Doctor to prison.  Dr Michoux assumes that Maigret has put on a show to protect him. Few, however, have paid attention to Emma, the mysterious waitress at the Admiral Hotel. Finally, Maigret concludes his account of the facts:

‘Bear with me now, we’re coming to the end. Tonight, Monday, a customs guard is shot in the leg as he walks down an empty street. The doctor is still in prison, under close watch. Le Pommeret is dead. Servières is in Paris in the hands of the Sûreté. Emma and the vagrant are at the very moment embracing and then devouring a chicken before my own eyes’.

In the plot of The Yellow Dog, insignificant in appearance, Simenon proves his great talent as a writer. This is a relatively short book, my edition has barely 134 pages, and it’s an excellent example of one of his first books in the series; those published between 1931 and 1934. In my view, if I have to highlight something it would be the method used by Maigret to solve the case. Maigret himself describes his method to his young assistant Leroy, as follows:

You’re lucky my friend! Especially in this case, in which my method has actually been not to have one … I’ll give you some good advice: if you’re interested in getting ahead, don’t take me for a model, or invent any theories from what you see me doing.’    

Actually, to find out what happened, Maigret will have to let events take their course, without interfering with them, until he finally solves the case by bringing together all the characters involved in the story and provides an explanation of all the facts . A delicious summer reading, highly recommended. To whet your appetite, I suggest you take a look at this superb first chapter, here

My rating: A (I loved it) 

The Yellow Dog has been reviewed at Confessions of a mystery novelist … (Margot Kinberg), Tipping My Fedora (Sergio Angelini),

Penguin Classics

Maigret of the Month: Le chien jaune

El perro canelo de Georges Simenon

NACA218 La acción tiene lugar en Concarneau, un pueblo de la costa en el departamento de Finisterre en Bretaña, al noroeste de Francia. Concarneau es un lugar de veraneo muy concurrido durante la temporada de vacaciones, aunque poco poblado en los meses de invierno. La historia comienza una tarde-noche de noviembre, cuando un hombre deja el hotel Admiral después de haber pasado un buen rato con algunos amigos. Su caminar, un poco inestable, implica que ha estado bebiendo más de la cuenta. Tras varios intentos, no logra encender su cigarro a causa del viento, se refugia en un portal, pierde el equilibrio y cae hacia atrás. Un guardia de aduanas de servicio lo ha visto todo y se dispone a ayudarlo cuando cae en la cuenta de que el hombre ha sido herido por un disparo efectuado desde el otro lado del portal. El herido resulta ser el señor Mostaguen, un ciudadano distinguido, el mayor comerciante de vinos de Concarneau, un buen hombre, sin enemigo alguno en el mundo. Poco después, un perro horrible, un animal extraño de color amarillo, es visto por primera vez deambulando por los alrededores. El inspector jefe Jules Maigret, asignado a Rennes para reorganizar su unidad móvil en el último mes, es llamado por el alcalde de Concarneau para investigar y llega a la ciudad con Leroy, un joven inspector con el que no ha trabajado antes. Maigret se instala en el hotel Admiral. El propio Maigret resume de esta manera lo que sucede a continuación:

“Al día siguiente, sábado, entro en el café. Después de las presentaciones, estoy a punto de tomar un aperitivo con los señores Michoux, Le Pommeret, y Jean Servières, cuando el médico de pronto comienza a sospechar de algo que hay en su vaso. El análisis muestra que la botella de Pernod está envenenada.”

“Domingo por la mañana, Jean Servières desaparece. Su coche aparece, con manchas de sangre, cerca de su casa. Antes de este descubrimiento, el Faro de Brest recibe una relación de los sucesos bien elaborada para sembrar el pánico en Concarneau.”

“Entonces Sevières es visto primero en Brest, después en París, donde parece que se esconde y a donde al parecer ha ido por su propia voluntad.”

“Ese mismo día, domingo, Monsieur Le Pommerest toma el aperitivo con el doctor, regresa a su casa, cena en ella y muere poco después, como consecuencia de una intoxicación por estricnina.”

El alcalde insiste en que Maigret haga una detención inmediata, cualquier detención. Mientras tanto la policía local detiene a un vagabundo enorme que fue visto merodeando por la zona, aunque el vagabundo logra escapar. Maigret, bajo presión, envía al doctor a la cárcel. El Dr. Michoux asume que Maigret ha montado un espectáculo para protegerlo. Pocos, sin embargo,  han prestado atención a Emma, la misteriosa camarera del hotel Admiral. Por último, Maigret concluye su relato de los hechos:

“Le ruego me disculpe ahora, estamos llegando al final. Esta noche, lunes, un guardia de aduanas es alcanzado por un disparo en la pierna mientras camina por una calle vacía. El doctor está todavía encarcelado, bajo estrecha vigilancia. Le Pommeret ha muerto. Servières está en París a disposición de la Sûreté. Emma y el vagabundo se encuentran en este mismo momento fundidos en un abrazo y a continuación devoran un pollo ante mis propios ojos.”

En la trama de El perro canelo, insignificante en apariencia, Simenon demuestra su gran talento como escritor. Este es un libro relativamente corto, mi edición tiene apenas 134 páginas, y es un excelente ejemplo de uno de sus primeros libros de la serie; los publicados entre 1931 y 1934. En mi opinión, si tengo que destacar algo sería el método utilizado por Maigret para resolver el caso. El propio Maigret describe su método a su joven ayudante Leroy, de la siguiente manera:

“Tienes suerte, amigo mío! Especialmente en este caso, en el que mi método ha sido precisamente no tenerlo  … te voy a dar un buen consejo: si tiene interés en salir adelante, no me tomes como modelo, ni inventes teorías de lo que me hayas visto hacer”.

En realidad, para averiguar lo que pasó, Maigret tendrá que dejar que los acontecimientos sigan su curso, sin interferir en ellos, hasta que finalmente resuelve el caso reuniendo a todos los personajes involucrados en la historia y proporciona una explicación de todos los hechos. Una deliciosa lectura de verano, muy recomendable. Para ir abriendo boca, les sugiero que echen un vistazo a esta excelente primer capítulo, aquí.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Acantilado

12 thoughts on “Review: The Yellow Dog by Georges Simenon

  1. Thank you for the kind mention, José Ignacio. I’m glad you enjoyed this novel. I agree that Maigret’s method is nicely done here. I also very much liked the atmosphere and setting.

  2. This was my first Maigret. I remember back then being disappointed that the dog of the title didn’t play much of a role at all. Your review and A rating stimulates me to go back and reread it. Thanks!

  3. Glad you enjoyed this one, Jose. It sounds very good, possibly one the best of the early Maigrets. I read the first three in the series last year but have slipped out of the habit of late. I must pick them up again at some point.

    • Afraid I’ve not read enough first Maigrets to agree with you Jacqui, but this one is often included as one of his bests early books. You should not be wrong.

  4. Thanks forthe referral Jose Ignacio – and really glad you liekd this one so much – I think the Maigret books stand up remarkably well for their ability to convey a feeling of a time and place.

  5. Pingback: July 2015 Round-Up and Pick of the Month | The Game's Afoot

  6. Pingback: Review: Lock Nº 1 (1933) Inspector Maigret #18 by Georges Simenon (trans. by David Coward) | A Crime is Afoot

  7. Pingback: Review: The Cellars of the Majestic (1942) Inspector Maigret #21 by Georges Simenon (trans. Howard Curtis) | A Crime is Afoot

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