Review: The Late Monsieur Gallet, 1931 (Inspector Maigret #2) by Georges Simenon. Trans: Anthea Bell


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

Penguin Classics, 2013. Format: Paperback edition. First published in French as Monsieur Gallet, décédé by Fayard, 1931. This translation first published in 2013 by Anthea Bell. ISBN: 978-0-141-39337-7. 156 pages. This novel has been published in previous translations as The Death of Monsieur Gallet. (1932, translated by Anthony Abbot) and Maigret Stonewalled (1963, translated by Margaret Marshall).

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707The back cover blurb reads: Investigating the circumstances around the death of a certain Monsieur Gallet, Maigret finds that much of the man’s life was a lie: the name he travelled under and even his stated profession. More worryingly, his wife’s haughtiness and his son’s casual indifference to the death suggest that there is more to this family than meets the eye. Indeed, the death of Monsieur Gallet may conceal another crime entirely.

My take: Perhaps what is most interesting to point out in this early instalment in Maigret’s mysteries series is that, unlike most of the stories in the series, the plot here is further more elaborate and turns out to be more complex than usual. All this despite the fact that the figure of the main character is not yet fully developed. Inspector Maigret in fact will have to cope with one of the most difficult cases in his career, not only due to the absence of clues, but also for the amount of lies that he will find around him. It will soon become clear to Maigret that, in order to disentangle this mystery, he will have to try to understand the late Monsieur Gallet and to scrutinise in his past rather than loosing his time seeking for non-existent leads. In some aspects, the story has reminded me of a locked-room mystery and, indeed, its style is closer to a Golden Age classic detectives mystery than any other of his books that I’ve read so far.  Above all, it is a highly entertaining read which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. The story opens as follows:

The very first contact between Detective Chief Inspector Maigret and the dead man with whom he was to spend several weeks in the most puzzling intimacy was on 27 June 1930 in circumstances that were mundane, difficult and unforgettable all at the same time.

Unforgettable chiefly because for the last week the Police Judiciaire had been getting note after note announcing that the King of Spain would be passing through Paris on that day and reminding them of the precautions to be taken on such occasion.

It so happened that the commissioner of the Police Judiciaire was in Prague, at a conference on forensics. His deputy had been called home to his villa in Normandy, where one of his children was ill.

Maigret, as the senior inspector, had to take everything on in suffocating heat, with manpower reduced by the holiday season to the bare minimum.

It was also early in the morning of 27 June that the body of a murdered woman, a haberdasher, was found in Rue Picpus.

My rating: A (I loved it)

About the author: Georges Simenon was born in Liège, Belgium, in 1903. Best known in Britain as the author of the Maigret books, his prolific output of over 400 novels and short stories have made him a household name in continental Europe. He died in 1989 in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he had lived for the latter part of his life.

About the translator: Anthea Bell is the award-winning translator of numerous French and German works: from the Asterix comics to W. G. Sebald’s literary masterpiece Austerlitz.

The Late Monsieur Gallet has been reviewed at Mysteries in Paradise, The complete review, Crime Review, The Late Monsieur Gallet a review by Andrew Walser

Penguin Classics publicity page

Penguin Random House publicity page

Geroges Simenon Website

M. Gallet, décédé

Maigret of the Month: February, 2004

Tout Maigret

audible

The Case of Georges Simenon by Scott Bradfield

El difunto filántropo (La muerte del señor Gallet) de Georges Simenon

La propaganda de la contraportada dice: Al investigar las circunstancias en torno a la muerte de un tal Monsieur Gallet, Maigret descubre que gran parte de la vida de este hombre era mentira: el nombre bajo el que viajaba e incluso su profesión declarada. Más preocupante aún, la arrogancia de su mujer y la despreoucpada indiferencia  de su hijo por su muerte sugieren que existe en esta familia algo más de lo que parece. De hecho, la muerte de Monsieur Gallet puede ocultar otro crimen por completo.

Mi opinión: Tal vez lo que es más interesante destacar en esta primera entrega de la serie de misterios de Maigret es que, a diferencia de la mayoría de las historias de la serie, la trama aquí está más elaborada y resulta más compleja de lo habitual. Todo esto a pesar de que la figura del personaje principal aún no está completamente desarrollada. El inspector Maigret de hecho tendrá que lidiar con uno de los casos más difíciles en su carrera, no sólo por la ausencia de pistas, sino también por la cantidad de mentiras que encontrará a su alrededor. Maigret pronto verá que, para desentrañar este misterio, tendrá que tratar de comprender al difunto señor Gallet y escudriñar en su pasado más que perder su tiempo buscando pistas inexistentes. En algunos aspectos, la historia me ha recordado un misterio de habitación cerrada y, de hecho, su estilo está más cerca de un misterio clásico de detectives de la Edad de Oro que cualquier otro de sus libros que he leído hasta ahora. Por encima de todo, es una lectura muy entretenida que he disfrutado mucho. La historia comienza así:

El primer contacto entre el inspector jefe de detectives Maigret y el difunto con el que pasaría varias semanas en la más desconcertante intimidad, fue el 27 de junio de 1930 en circunstancias que eran a la vez triviales, penosas e inolvidables.

Inolvidables sobre todo porque durante la última semana la Policía Judicial había estado recibiendo nota tras nota anunciando que el Rey de España pasaría por París en esa fecha y recordándo las precauciones que debían tomarse en semejante ocasión.

Sucedía también que el director de la Policía Judicial se encontraba  en Praga, en una congreso sobre medicina forense. Su adjunto se había marchado a su casa en Normandía, en donde uno de sus hijos estaba enfermo.

Maigret, como el inspector mas antiguo, tuvo que ocuparse de todo en medio de un calor sofocante, con unos efectivos que las vacaciones habían reducido al mínimo.

Fue también  en la madrugada del 27 de junio, cuando se encontró en la calle Picpus el cuerpo de una mujer asesisnada, la dueña de una mercería. (Mi traducción libre)

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

La novela negra: malestar social y malestar individual por Eugenio Fuentes

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10 thoughts on “Review: The Late Monsieur Gallet, 1931 (Inspector Maigret #2) by Georges Simenon. Trans: Anthea Bell

    1. Thanks Sergio, both for your visit and your comment. Frankly I believe the chronological order of the Maigret novels is not significant in my view. You can always decide to try to read them in order at a later stage if you so decide after reading some of his books. Now I’m starting to read some of the old ones, but I hope to be able to read also some of the latest translations as they become available.

      1. Apologies for the typos in my earlier message (the perils of using a mobile). I think, overall, that the books from the 1930s have more complicated plots, and that the later ones tend to turn more on character, though the Simenon series is wonderfully varied.

  1. Una gran reseña, José Ignacio. Recuerdo haber leido alguno de los misterios de Maigret hace años, pero estoy segura de que no se trataba de esta obra de arte. Un libro más para mi lista de clásicos que leer en verano.

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