Month: August 2017

Georges Simenon’s Maigret Books (An Update)

This entry was first intended as a private note, but I have thought it can be of some interest to readers of this blog. Most of this information has been taken from the excellent resources provided at Maigret forum.

I have highlighted in bold, the books that are among my favourites. For some Simenon’s best Maigrets can be found in The Gallimard cycle, but my personal preference, at this stage, is towards the Fayard cycle. However I must recognise I have read so far very few of the books from his last period, the ones published between 1955 and 1972, after his return to Europe.

Please bear in mind that this post is a work in progress, you may read my reviews of the books I’ve read so far clicking on the books’ titles. Besides, your comments are welcome.

8160415c-48fc-44ac-848b-2aede2a1527d-620x372

The Other Maigrets. Seven “Maigrets” have apparently never been published in English — three short stories, and four novels written in the summer of 1929, published under the pseudonyms Christian Brulls and Georges Sim: the so-called “precursors of Maigret,” since Simenon proclaimed that “Pietr-le-letton” was “the first Maigret”

The Early Maigrets, (The 19 novels of the Fayard cycle): Pietr the Latvian (Pietr-le-Letton, mai 1931), The Late Monsieur Gallet (Monsieur Gallet, décédé, février 1931), The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien (Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien(février 1931), The Carter of ‘La Providence’ (Le Charretier de la Providence, mars 1931), The Yellow Dog (Le Chien jaune, avril 1931), Night at the Crossroads (La Nuit du carrefour, juin 1931), A Crime in Holland (Un crime en Hollande, juillet 1931), The Grand Banks Café (Au rendez-vous des Terre-Neuvas, août 1931), A Man’s Head (La Tête d’un homme – L’homme de la Tour Eiffel) septembre 1931), The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin (La Danseuse du Gai-Moulin, novembre 1931), The Two-Penny Bar, (La Guinguette à deux sous, décembre 1931), The Shadow Puppet (L’Ombre chinoise, janvier 1932), The Saint-Fiacre Affair (L’Affaire Saint-Fiacre, février 1932), The Flemish House (Chez les Flamands, mars 1932), The Madman of Bergerac (Le Fou de Bergerac, avril 1932), The Misty Harbour (Le Port des brumes, mai 1932), Liberty Bar (Liberty Bar, juillet 1932), Lock Nº 1 (L’Écluse 1, juin 1933), and Maigret (Maigret, mars 1934)

The Gallimard cycle, 6 novels: Cécile is Dead (Gallimard, 1942); The Cellars of the Majestic (Gallimard, 1942); The Judgeʻs House (Gallimard, 1942); Signed, Picpus (Gallimard, 1944); Inspector Cadaver (Gallimard, 1944), and Félicie (Gallimard, 1944).

The Presses de la Cité cycle (50 novels)

a) In the United States and Canada, 1945–1955: Maigret Gets Angry (’47), Maigret in New York (’47), Maigret’s Holiday (’48), Maigret and His Dead Man (’48), Maigret’s First Case (’49), My Friend Maigret (’49, Maigret at the Coroner’s (’49), Maigret and the Old Lady (’50), Madame Maigret’s Friend, (’50), Maigret’s Memoirs (’51), Maigret at Picratt’s (’51), Maigret Takes a Room, (’51), Maigret and the tall woman, (’51), Maigret, Lognon and the Gangsters (’52), Maigret’s Revolver(’52), Maigret and the Man on the Bench (’53), Maigret is Afraid (’53), Maigret’s Mistake (’53), Maigret Goes to School (’54), Maigret and the Dead Girl (’54), Maigret and the Minister (’55), Maigret and the Headless Corpse (’55).

As from here onwards, I don’t have yet all the titles of the New Penguins, under new translations except for a few ones.

b) The return to Europe, 1955–1972: Maigret Sets a Trap (’55), Maigret’s Failure (’56), Maigret Enjoys Himself (’57), Maigret Travels (’58), Maigret Doubts (’58), Maigret Has Scruples (58), Maigret and the Reluctant Witnesses (’59), Maigret Has Doubts (’59), Maigret in Court (’60), Maigret in Society (’60), Maigret and the Lazy Burglar (’61), Maigret and the Black Sheep (’62), Maigret and the Saturday Caller (’62), Maigret and the Dosser, Maigret and the Bum (’63), Maigret Loses His Temper (’63), Maigret and the Ghost, Maigret and the Apparition (’64), Maigret on the Defensive (’64), The Patience of Maigret, Maigret Bides His Time (’65), Maigret and the Nahour Case (’67), Maigret’s Pickpocket (’67), Maigret Takes the Waters, Maigret in Vichy (’68), Maigret Hesitates (’68), Maigret’s Boyhood Friend (’68),Maigret and the Killer (’69), Maigret and the Wine Merchant (’70), Maigret and the Madwoman (’70), Maigret and the Loner (’71), Maigret and the Flea, Maigret and the Informer (’71), Maigret and Monsieur Charles (’72).

The 28 Maigret short stories:

La Péniche aux deux pendus, L’Affaire du Boulevard Beaumarchais, La Fenêtre ouverte, Monsieur Lundi, Jeumont, 51 minutes d’arrêt, Peine de mort., Les Larmes de bougie, Rue Pigalle, Une erreur de Maigret, L’Amoureux de Madame Maigret, La vieille dame de Bayeux, L’Auberge aux noyés, Stan le tueur, L’Étoile du Nord, Tempête sur la Manche, Mademoiselle Berthe et son amant, Le Notaire du Châteauneuf, L’improbable Monsieur Owen, Ceux du Grand Café, L’Homme dans la rue, Vente à la bougie, Menaces de mort, La Pipe de Maigret, On ne tue pas les pauvres types, Le Témoinage de l’enfant de chœur, Le Client le plus obstiné du monde, Maigret et l’inspecteur malgracieux (malchanceux) and Un Noël de Maigret.

The majority of this short stories, translated into English, are collected in two books: Maigret’s Pipe: Seventeen Stories by Georges Simenon and Maigret’s Christmas: Nine Stories. Three of this stories, previously untranslated into English are now available at the excellent Maigret Forum website:  The Group at the Grand Café (1938); The Unlikely Monsieur Owen (1938,  and Death Threats (1942).

Please let me know of any error or omission you may find on this page. Thanks beforehand.

(updated 29-08-2017)

Advertisements

Review: Félicie, 1944 (Inspector Maigret #25) by Georges Simenon (Trans: David Coward)

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

Penguin Classics, 2015. Format: Kindle edition. File size: 1040 KB. Print length: 160 pages. First published in French as Félicie est là by Èditions Gallimard, 1944. This translation by David Coward first published in 2015. ASIN:B00ZE96ZZQ. ISBN: 978-0-241-18867-5. Aka Maigret and the Toy Village, translated by Eileen Ellenbogen, published in 1978 by Hamish Hamilton (UK) and in 1979 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (USA).

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707 (5)Book description: Peg Leg Lapie, a crusty old sailor, is found mysteriously murdered in a most incongruous setting: a picturesque cottage near Paris, where he lived attended only by his young housekeeper, Félicie. But Lapie was not alone Maigret, chief inspector of the Paris police, is sure of it. A man at work in his garden, wearing clogs and a straw hat, does not suddenly drop his tools to go indoors and fetch a bottle of brandy to drink alone in the summerhouse. There must have been another glass that someone removed. But Félicie, in her red hat trimmed with an iridescent feather, proves a champion adversary, as skilled in innuendo and evasion as Maigret is in deduction.

My take: Félicie is a rather uncommon novel in Maigret’s canon. The story revolves around the investigation into the murder of Jules Lapie, also known as Pegleg. When it begins, Maigret finds himself reconstructing the steps given by Félicie on the day Pegleg was murdered. Lapie was not a sailor, but a book-keeper with a firm of ship’s suppliers at Fécamp. One morning, in his early forties, Lapie went on board the Sainte-Thérèse. The vessel’s crew made him drink and, upon awakening, he found himself on his way to Cape Horn. The adventure cost him a leg when, after a sudden squall, he fell through an open hatch. Years later, he will be killed by a single shot from a revolver one Monday in springtime, while Félicie was out shopping in Mélanie Chochoi’s brand-new store. Once back home in Fécamo, Lapie began a long battle with the vessel’s owners. A battle that he would eventually ended up winning out of sheer perseverance. With his compensation, he moved inland and bought himself a house at a new development in Jeanneville, near Orgeval. A recalcitrant bachelor, he sought among his acquaintances in Fécamp, a young woman to serve him as housekeeper and thus he met Félicie who has been working for him for the past seven years. After the reading of his will, it turns out that Jules Lapie has left all his goods to Félicie, but her strange behaviour, once known Lapie’s testament, draws powerfully the attention of Maigret, who in turn will feel terribly captivated by the young woman. However, the story will end up taking an entirely unexpected turn.

Once again, this book confirms my opinion that Simenon wasn’t afraid to undertake new challenges and was prepared to transit through unchartered territories. Of all these, this book is a good example. The story concentrates around the fascination young Félicie exerts over Maigret and,consequently, the gravity centre ceases to be a criminal investigation to become a truly psychological novel which perhaps presages what are going to be his ‘romans durs’. Personally, I have enjoyed this book, though I accept that maybe my age has helped me to better understand Maigret’s reaction. In any case, a highly interesting book that has help me to discover some new aspects about this writer and his character. The confrontation between Félicie and Maigret will annoy Maigret more than what he thought but, simultaneously, will exert in him some kind of spell of which he won’t be able to get away. In a sense he will succumb to the magnetism that her mere presence exercises over him. This love-hate relationship that is establish between them will occupy a large part of the narration, and it will be present on all chapters. The plot turns out being quite intelligent, it works pretty well and the solution to the mystery will not be known until the end.

In another context it would be difficult to understand this dialogue between Félicie and Maigret.

‘I still hate you!’
He turns with a smile.
‘And I adore you, Félicie!’

My rating: A (I loved it)

About the author: Georges Simenon was one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century. He was able to write 60 to 80 pages a day. He travelled widely and stayed in the United States for ten years, from 1945 until 1955. In 1957, he moved to Switzerland. During his lifetime, he published about 450 novels and short stories. 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 (starting with La nuit du carrefour (Night at the Crossroads), adapted for the screen by Jean Renoir as early as 1932).

About the translator: David Coward is Emeritus Professor of French at the University of Leeds and has translated many books from French for Penguin Classics.

Félicie has been reviewed at Vintage45’s Blog.

Penguin UK publicity page

Penguin US publicity page

Georges Simenon Website 

Félicie est là 

Maigret of the Month: December, 2005

Tout Maigret

audible

And I, my dear Félicie, adore you!

Una extraña sirvienta (Felicia está ahí), de Georges Simenon

Descripción del libro: Pata de palo Lapie, un viejo marinero malhumorado, es encontrado misteriosamente asesinado en un lugar incongruente: una casa de campo pintoresca cerca de París, donde vivía atendida sólo por su joven ama de llaves, Felicia. Pero Lapie no estaba solo, el comisario Maigret está seguro de ello. Un hombre que trabaja en su jardín, con zuecos y un sombrero de paja, no suelta las herramientas de repente para buscar una botella de brandy para beber en solitario en su casa de campo. Tenía que haber otro vaso que alguien retiró. Pero Félicia, con su sombrero rojo adornado con una pluma tornasolada, demuestra ser un magnífico adversario, tan experimentada en indirectas y en evasivas, como Maigret lo és en sacar conclusiones.

Mi opinión: Felicia está ahí es una novela poco común en el canon de Maigret. La historia gira en torno a la investigación sobre el asesinato de Jules Lapie, también conocido como Pata de palo. Cuando comienza, Maigret se encuentra reconstruyendo los pasos dados por Felicia el día que Pata de palo fue asesinado. Lapie no era un marinero, sino un contable de una firma proveedora de buques en Fécamp. Una mañana, a los cuarenta años, Lapie subió a bordo de la Sainte-Thérèse. La tripulación del buque le hizo beber y, al despertar, se encontró camino de Cabo de Hornos. La aventura le costó una pierna cuando, después de una repentina ráfaga, cayó por una escotilla abierta. Años más tarde, será asesinado por un solo disparo de un revólver un lunes en primavera, mientras que Felicia estaba de compras en la nueva tienda de Mélanie Chochoi. De regreso a Fécamo, Lapie comenzó una larga batalla judicial con los propietarios de la embarcación. Una batalla que acabaría ganando por pura perseverancia. Con su compensación, se trasladó al interior y se compró una casa en una nueva urbanización en desarrollo en Jeanneville, cerca de Orgeval. Un soltero recalcitrante, buscó entre sus conocidos en Fécamp, una mujer joven, para servirle como ama de llaves y así conoció a Felicia que ha estado trabajando para él durante los últimos siete años. Después de la lectura de su testamento, resulta que Jules Lapie ha dejado todos sus bienes a Felicia, pero su extraña conducta, una vez conocido el testamento de Lapie, atrae poderosamente la atención de Maigret, quien a su vez se sentirá terriblemente cautivado por la joven. Sin embargo, la historia terminará tomando un giro totalmente inesperado.

Una vez más, este libro confirma mi opinión de que Simenon no tenía miedo de emprender nuevos desafíos y estaba preparado para transitar por territorios desconocidos. De todo ello, este libro es un buen ejemplo. La historia se concentra en torno a la fascinación que la joven Felicia ejerce sobre Maigret y, en consecuencia, el centro de gravedad deja de ser una investigación criminal para convertirse en una verdadera novela psicológica que quizá presagia lo que serán sus ‘romans durs’. Personalmente, he disfrutado este libro, aunque acepto que tal vez mi edad me ha ayudado a comprender mejor la reacción de Maigret. En cualquier caso, un libro muy interesante que me ha ayudado a descubrir algunos aspectos nuevos sobre este escritor y su personaje. El enfrentamiento entre Felicia y Maigret enojará a Maigret más de lo que él pensaba, pero al mismo tiempo ejercerá en él algún tipo de hechizo del que no podrá escapar. En cierto sentido, sucumbirá al magnetismo que su mera presencia ejerce sobre él. Esta relación de amor-odio que se establece entre ellos ocupará gran parte de la narración, y estará presente en todos los capítulos. La trama resulta ser bastante inteligente, funciona suficientemente bien y la solución al misterio no se conocerá hasta el final.

En otro contexto, sería difícil cde entender este diálogo entre Félicia y Maigret.

‘¡Yo todavía le odio!’
Se vuelve con una sonrisa.
-¡Y yo, Felicia, te adoro!

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Sobre el autor: Georges Simenon fue uno de los escritores más prolíficos del siglo veinte. Era capaz de escribir de 60 a 80 páginas diarias. Viajó mucho y permaneció en los Estados Unidos durante diez años, de 1945 hasta 1955. En 1957, se trasladó a Suiza. Durante su vida, publicó alrededor de 450 novelas y cuentos. Sin embargo, es más conocido por sus 75 novelas y 28 cuentos protagonizados por el Comisario Maigret. La primera novela de la serie Pietr, el Letón apareció en 193, la última Maigret y Monsieur Charles fue publicada en 1972. Las novelas de Maigret han sido traducidas a todos los principales idiomas y varias de ellas se convirtieron en películas, comenzando por La nuit du carrefour (La noche de la encrucijada) adaptada a la pantalla por Jean Renoir ya en 1932.

Simenon and the Second World War

After a comment by a kind reader, I have tried to search a little about Georges Simenon’s stance during the Second World War.

s-l300So far as the facts are concerned, I’ve been able to extract the following information: (Source: Chronology by Jean-Baptiste Baronian)

1940. Georges Simenon is named high commissioner for the Belgian refugees of the department of Charente-Inférieure. His mission completed at the end of four months, he first settles in the forest of Mervent, then at Fontenay-Le-Comte, in the Vendée, where a physician diagnoses an illness that would leave him but two or three years to live. With that, he immediately begins writing Je me souviens… [I Remember], the first of his autobiographical works, in a sentimental manner intended for his son.

1942. He gets settled in Saint-Mesmin-le-Vieux, still in the Vendée, and publishes La Veuve Couderc (Ticket of Leave) and Maigret revient (Maigret Returns), a collection of stories (Cécile est morteLes Caves du Majestic – La Maison du juge) marking, as the title indicates, the return of Maigret to the bookstores.

1945. After have been restricted to “permanent residence” at Sables-d’Olonne, Simenon comes to live in Paris for several months to prepare for his departure for the United States, which had recently caught his interest. In October, he disembarks at New York with Tigy and Marc.

From Wikipedia:

Simenon lived in the Vendée during the Second World War. Simenon’s conduct during the war is a matter of considerable controversy, with some scholars inclined to view him as having been a collaborator with the Germans while others disagree, viewing Simenon as having been an apolitical man who was essentially an opportunist but by no means a collaborator. Further confusion stems from the fact that he was denounced as a collaborator by local farmers while at the same time the Gestapo suspected him of being Jewish, apparently conflating the names “Simenon” and “Simon”. In any case, Simenon was under investigation at the end of the war because he had negotiated film rights of his books with German studios during the occupation and in 1950 was sentenced to a five-year period during which he was forbidden to publish any new work. This sentence, however, was kept from the public and had little practical effect.

The war years did see Simenon produce a number of important works, including Le Testament Donadieu, Le Voyageur de la Toussaintand Le Cercle des Mahé. He also conducted important correspondence, most notably with André Gide.

Also in the early 1940s, Simenon had a health scare when a local doctor misdiagnosed him with a serious heart condition (a reminder of his father), giving him only months to live.

….

Simenon escaped questioning in France and in 1945 arrived, along with Tigy and Marc, in North America.

And from The New Yorker:

In 1940, after the Second World War got under way, Simenon moved his family to a village in the Vendée, in west-central France. Because of travel restrictions, he got stuck there. In the morning he wrote; in the afternoon he played cards with the locals in a café. His war record was mixed. He ran a refugee center, very energetically, people say. On the other hand, four of the nine movies made of his books during the Occupation were produced by what he knew was a Nazi-run company. For that organization, he also signed a statement that he was an Aryan. Pierre Assouline says that Simenon was neither a collaborator nor a resister but just an opportunist. Alan Riding, in his recent, evenhanded book on the Occupation, “And the Show Went On,” also brushes Simenon’s case aside. But most people suffered severe privations during the war. Meanwhile, Simenon got richer (primarily from those movies). And so, once the Occupation ended, the purge committee of the French writers’ union began looking into his case. Simenon became truly frightened—some writers, on the committee’s recommendation, were barred from publishing—and in 1945, as soon as he could get out, he sailed with his family to North America. They eventually settled in the genteel town of Lakeville, Connecticut, where Simenon was restless but productive. (Many of his best books were published in his middle years, from about 1938 to 1951.) After a ten-year exile, the family returned to Europe, settling near Lausanne, Switzerland, which for Simenon, as for others, was a tax haven.

Regarding the presence of the Second World War in his oeuvre, it is evident, as far as I understand, that none of his Maigret books makes explicit reference to any historical event. They are considered timeless. But with respect to his  his ‘romans durs’, at least two take place against the backdrop of the Second World War –Le Train,1958 (The Train) and Le Clan des Ostendais, 1947 (The Ostenders), while La Neige était sale, 1948 (Dirty Snow) and Les autres, 1962 (The Others)  evoke the Second World War in a sense.

Review: Inspector Cadaver, 1944 (Inspector Maigret #24) by Georges Simenon (Trans: William Hobson)

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

Penguin Classics, 2015. Format: Kindle edition. File size: 1610 KB. Print length: 176 pages. First published in French as L’inspecteur Cadavre by Èditions Gallimard, 1944. This translation by William Hobson was first published in 2015. ASIN:B00ZE9703C. ISBN: 978-0-241-18848-4. Aka Maigret’s Rival translated by Helen Thomson, published in 1979 by Hamish Hamilton (UK ) and in 1980 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (USA ). To commemorate the centenary of the birth of Georges Simenon in 2003, a number of reprints were published; many of these had different overall titles and a new introduction.

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707Book description: When a friend’s brother-in-law is accused of murdering his daughter’s lover, Maigret arrives in a small French town to help and is plunged into an atmosphere of animosity. He soon finds himself tangled up in a case that may ruin the very people whom he has come to aid and must face an old enemy—an ex-police officer nicknamed “Inspector Cadaver”—who seems to be doing everything in his power to obstruct Maigret’s investigation.

My take: In a train bound to Saint-Aubin-le-Marais, Maigret recognises in one of the passengers Inspector Cadaver, a former police inspector who opened a private detective agency after leaving the force.

The man’s name was Cavre, Justin Cavre, not Cadaver, of course. But Inspector Cadaver was the nickname he had been given twenty years earlier and that was still what they call him at the Police Judiciaire whenever he came up in conversation. 
He was intelligent. He may even, in fact, have been the most intelligent man Maigret had ever come across on the force. They were pretty much the same age, and to tell the truth, Cavre was slightly the better educated of the two of them. Who knew, if he had persevered he might have been promoted to detective chief inspector before Maigret.
Not many people knew why he had suddenly quit the force. Maigret himself had only found out later and he had felt sorry for him. ´

….

Cavre was madly in love with his wife, consumed by the sort of jealous, devastating passion that you would associate with a lover rather than a husband. What could he possibly find so extraordinary about that vulgar creature with the looks of a tart or a failed starlet? The fact remained however, that for her sake he had crossed the line in his work.

Maigret wasn’t even on official duty. Shortly before, Victor Bréjon, an Examining Magistrate, had requested him his assistance on a personal matter. Bréjon’s brother-in-law, Étienne Naud, was being the subject of rumours that linked him with the death of a young man. ‘You can imagine what it’s like … Small town, absolutely minute … You’ll see for yourself … Middle of nowhere … Jealousy, envy, wanton malice … My brother-in-law couldn’t be a more decent, straightforward person …’ Sebastien Naud turned out to be a well-to-do cattle dealer from Saint Aubin, a village lost in the depths of the Vendée marshes. Why did it matter him if Cavre was also going to Saint-Aubin?

Maigret’s mission will be much more difficult than what he had imagined beforehand. Nobody will be ready to help him, he won’t find answers to his queries, and most people will receive him with total indifference, when not with obvious hostility. Therefore, since there is not much more he can do about it, given he’s acting only on a personal capacity, he’s  seriously pondering to abandon the investigation and get back to Paris.

I must confess that this title did not strike me as appealing at first. However, I finally managed to overcome my prejudices. And now I am really glad I read it. The story turns out to be much more attractive than I had imagined. The development of the story is interesting and it’s well crafted. All in all, the end result is an absorbing reading, with interesting characters in a highly convincing rural setting, that offers further information to better understand the true nature of Maigret.

At the Police Judiciaire they often used to joke about the Maigret that emerged at moments like this. He knew they talked about it behind his back too.
This Maigret seemed to swell out all recognition, to become dense and heavy as if he were dead to the world or blind and dumb. A stranger or novice might easily mistaken him for a sleepy lumbering idiot.
`So you are concentrating all your thoughts on the case, are you?’ someone who fancied himself an expert in psychology had once asked him.
And he replied with comic sincerity, ‘I never think.’

My rating: A (I loved it)

About the author: Georges Simenon (1903-1989) was one of the most successful 20th-century authors of crime fiction. His 75 Maigret novels and 28 Maigret short stories published between 1931 and 1972 found international success, (he is the only non-anglophone crime writer who has found such international renown). His Maigret stories are regarded by many as having established a new direction in crime fiction, emphasising social and psychological portraiture rather than focussing on a puzzle to be solved or on “action”. (source: Nielsen Book Data)

About the translator: Former Contributing Editor at Granta Books, Will Hobson is a critic and translator from the French and German, whose translations include Viramma: A Pariah’s Life, Viramma (Verso); The Battle, Patrick Rambaud (Picador); Sans Moi, Marie Desplechin (Granta); Benares, Barlen Pyamootoo (Canongate); and The Dead Man in the Bunker, Martin Pollack (Faber). He writes for the Independent on Sunday, the Observer and Granta magazine, and translated Greenpeace’s presentation to the Pope before the Kyoto Summit into Latin. (Source: English Pen)

Penguin UK publicity page

Penguin US publicity page

Georges Simenon Website

Inspector Cadaver 

Maigret of the Month: January, 2006

Tout Maigret

audible

Maigret’s Journeys in France 

Inspector Cadaver Introduction by Paul Bailey Penguin, 2003

Maigret y el inspector Cadaver, de Georges Simenon

Descripción del libro: Cuando el cuñado de un amigo es acusado de asesinar al amante de su hija, Maigret llega a una pequeña ciudad francesa para ayudarle y se sumerge en una atmósfera de animosidad. Pronto se encuentra envuelto en un caso que puede arruinar a las mismas personas a las que ha venido a ayudar y debe enfrentarse a un viejo enemigo -un antiguo detective de la policía apodado “Inspector Cadáver” -que parece hacer todo lo posible para obstruir la investigación de Maigret.


Mi opinión
: En un tren con destinoa a Saint-Aubin-le-Marais, Maigret reconoce en uno de los pasajeros al inspector Cadaver, un antiguo inspector de policía que abrió una agencia privada de detectives después de dejar el cuerpo.

El nombre del hombre era Cavre, Justin Cavre, no Cadáver, por supuesto. Pero el inspector Cadáver era el apodo que le habían dado veinte años antes y así le llamaban en la Policía Judicial siempre que hablaban de él.
Era inteligente. Incluso podría ser el hombre más inteligente con el que Maigret se ha podido encontrar en el cuerpo. Tenían casi la misma edad, y, a decir verdad, Cavre era el que tenía la mejor educación de los dos. Quién sabe, si hubiera perseverado, podría haber sido nombrado inspector-detective jefe antes que Maigret.
No mucha gente sabía por qué de repente había renunciado al cuerpo. El propio Maigret se había enterado más tarde y había sentido lástima de él. ‘

….

Cavre estaba locamente enamorado de su esposa, consumido por ese tipo de pasión celosa y devastadora que uno asociaría con un amante y no con un marido. ¿Qué podría él encontrar tan extraordinario en esa criatura vulgar con aspecto de furcia o de starlette fracasada? Sin embargo, el hecho fue que, por complacerla, se salió de los límites en su trabajo.

Maigret ni siquiera se encontraba oficialmente de servicio. Poco antes, Víctor Bréjon, el juez intructor, le había pedido su ayuda en un asunto personal. El cuñado de Bréjon, Étienne Naud, estaba siendo objeto de rumores que lo vinculaban con la muerte de un joven. ‘-Puede imaginarse cómo es … Pequeña ciudad, absolutamente diminuta … Lo verá usted mismo … En medio de la nada … Celos, envidia, malicia descarada … Mi cuñado no pueder ser una persona más decente y franca … ‘ Sebastien Naud resultó ser un acomodado tratante de ganado de Saint Aubin, un pueblo perdido en las profundidades de los páramos en el Vendée. ¿Por qué le importaba que Cavre también fuera a Saint-Aubin?

La misión de Maigret resultará ser mucho más difícil de lo que había imaginado de antemano. Nadie estará dispuesto a ayudarlo, no encontrará respuestas a sus preguntas, y la mayoría de la gente lo recibirá con total indiferencia, cuando no con evidente hostilidad. Por lo tanto, puesto que no hay mucho más que pueda hacer al respecto, dado que actúa sólo a título personal, está ponderando seriamente abandonar la investigación y regresar a París.

Debo confesar que este título no me pareció tan atractivo al principio. Sin embargo, finalmente logré superar mis prejuicios. Y ahora estoy muy contento de haberlo leído. La historia resulta ser mucho más atractiva de lo que había imaginado. El desarrollo de la historia es interesante y está bien elaborada. Con todo, el resultado final es una lectura absorbente, con personajes interesantes en un entorno rural muy convincente, que ofrece más información para comprender mejor la verdadera naturaleza de Maigret.

En la Policía Judicial solían bromear sobre el Maigret que aparecía en momentos como éste. Sabía que también hablaban de eso a sus espaldas.
Este Maigret parecía transformarse hasta quedar irreconocible, haciéndose denso y pesado como si estuviera fuera de este mundo o ciego y mudo. Un extraño o un novato podría fácilmente confundirlo con un idiota somnoliento y pesado.
“ –Así que estás concentrando todos tus pensamientos en el caso, ¿verdad?” -le había preguntado alguien que se creía un experto en psicología.
  Y él respondió con una divertida sinceridad: “Nunca pienso“.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Sobre el autor: Georges Simenon (1903-1989) fue uno de los autores del siglo XX de más éxito de novelas negro-criminales. Sus 75 novelas y sus 28 relatos portagonizados por Maigret publicados entre 1931 y 1972 alcanzaron éxito internacional, (él es el único escritor de novelas negro-criminales no-anglosajón con renombre internacional). Sus historias de Maigret son consideradas por muchos como creadoras de una nueva corriente en la ficción negro-criminal, destacando el perfil social y psicológico en lugar de poner el acento en un enigma que resolver o en la “acción”.

Review: The Judge’s House, 1942 (Inspector Maigret #22) by Georges Simenon (Trans: Howard Curtis)

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

Penguin Classics, 2015. Format: Kindle edition. File size: 752 KB. Print length: 176 pages. First published in French as La Maison du juge by Èditions Gallimard, 1942. This translation by Howard Curtis was first published in 2015. ASIN: B00TRP3UR4. ISBN: 978-0-141-98068-3. A pre-original edition of this novel appeared initially published, in serialised form, between April 27 to August 31 1941, in the weekly Les Ondes. The book, entitled Maigret in Exile, was translated into English in 1978 by Eileen Ellenbogen and published by Hamish Hamilton in the UK. The First American edition appeared in 1979

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707 (4)Book description: Exiled from the Police Judiciare in Paris, Maigret bides his time in a remote coastal town of France. There, among the lighthouses, mussel farms and the eerie wail of foghorns, he discovers that a community’s loyalties hide unpleasant truths.

My take: Following the merger among the two main police forces, the Police Judiciaire and La Sûreté Nationale, Maigret falls into disgrace for a reason he’s not willing to disclose, and he’s been transferred to Luçon in the Vendée, for a year. When hardly three months has elapsed, an odd woman, Adine Hulot, comes to see him. She claims  her husband, Justin Hulot, has seen a body lying in the floor at Judge Forlacroix’s house in L’Aiguillon, a small village of about twenty inhabitants some thirty kilometres far from Luçon. According to her husband,  judge Forlacroix might get rid of the body when the tide rises. And she urges Maigret to come with her to L’Aiguillon before it’s too late. In fact as soon as Maigret arrives, he finds the judge trying to drag  the lifeless body of a man outside of his house to dump it into the sea. However, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, Forlacroix offers Maigret a glass of Armagnac at his library. The judge admits he hasn’t the faintest idea of who this man was or what could he been doing in his house. But I better leave the story at this point so you can enjoy the book, if you finally decides to read  it.

Although I’m not inclined to regard this book among Maigret bests, it’s not bad either and I have really enjoyed it.  Simenon’s concise prose style, his talent to capture the reader’s attention, and some well-crafted dialogues which work very well,  place this novel well above the average in the series. Not to mention its rich cast of characters, and the appropriate choice of the setting in which the story takes place. Finally, I would like to stress that chapter 9, entitled The ‘Singing Session’  justifies by itself alone the reading of this book.

Maigret switched on the lights, took off his hat and coat, refilled the stove, walked around the room two or three times,and as he did so, a kind of glimmer of anxiety could be seen passing over his face. He came and went, glanced here and there, move objects about, smoked and muttered, as if expecting something that hadn’t yet come.
And that something was the feeling of being at ease in his own skin, as he usually put it, glad to avoid the word ‘inspiration’

My rating: A (I loved it)

About the author: Georges Simenon (1903-1989) was one of the most successful 20th-century authors of crime fiction. His 75 Maigret novels and 28 Maigret short stories published between 1931 and 1972 found international success, (he is the only non-anglophone crime writer who has found such international renown). His Maigret stories are regarded by many as having established a new direction in crime fiction, emphasising social and psychological portraiture rather than focussing on a puzzle to be solved or on “action”. (source: Nielsen Book Data)

About the translator: Howard Curtis is one of the top translators working in the UK.  He translates from French, Spanish and Italian, and many of his translations have been awarded or shortlisted for translation prizes.

Penguin UK publicity page

Penguin US publicity page

Georges Simenon Website

The Judge’s House 

Maigret of the Month: September, 2005

Tout Maigret

audible

Maigret’s Journeys in France

La casa del Juez, de Georges Simenon

Descripción del libro: Exiliado de la Policía Judicial de París, Maigret espera su momento en una remota ciudad costera de Francia. Allí, entre los faros, las granjas de mejillones y el inquietante gemido de las sirenas de niebla, descubre que las lealtades de una comunidad ocultan molestas  verdades …

Mi opinión: Tras la fusión de las dos principales fuerzas policiales, la Policía Judicial y La Sûreté Nationale, Maigret cae en desgracia por una razón que no está dispuesto a divulgar, y ha sido trasladado a Luçon en La Vendée, por un año. Cuando apenas han transcurrido tres meses, una mujer extraña, Adine Hulot, viene a verlo. Afirma que su marido, Justin Hulot, ha visto un cuerpo tumbado en el suelo en la casa del juez Forlacroix en L’Aiguillon, un pequeño pueblo de unos veinte habitantes a unos treinta kilómetros de Luçon. Según su marido, el juez Forlacroix podría deshacerse del cuerpo cuando la marea suba. Y le pide a Maigret que venga con ella a L’Aiguillon antes de que sea demasiado tarde. De hecho, tan pronto como Maigret llega, encuentra al juez tratando de arrastrar el cuerpo sin vida de un hombre fuera de su casa para arrojarlo al mar. Sin embargo, como si fuera la cosa más natural del mundo, Forlacroix ofrece a Maigret un vaso de Armagnac en su biblioteca. El juez admite que no tiene la más remota idea de quién era este hombre o qué podía haber estado haciendo en su casa. Pero es mejor que deje la historia en este punto para que puedan disfrutar del libro, si finalmente deciden leerlo.

Aunque no estoy inclinado a considerar este libro entre los mejores de Maigret, tampoco es malo y lo he disfrutado mucho. El estilo conciso de la prosa de Simenon, su talento para captar la atención del lector, y algunos diálogos bien elaborados que funcionan muy bien, colocan esta novela muy por encima del promedio de la serie. Por no hablar de su rico elenco de personajes, y la elección adecuada del escenario en el que tiene lugar la historia. Por último, quisiera subrayar que el capítulo 9, titulado La ‘Sesión de Canto’, justifica por sí solo la lectura de este libro.

Maigret encendió las luces, se quitó el sombrero y el abrigo, volvió a llenar la estufa, caminó por la habitación dos o tres veces, y al hacerlo, un cierto atisbo de ansiedad pudo verse dibujado en su rostro. Iba y venía, miraba aquí y allá, movía objetos, fumaba y murmuraba, como si esperara algo que aún no había llegado.
Y ese algo era la sensación de estar a gusto en su propia piel, como solía decir habitualmente, contento de evitar la palabra “inspiración”

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Sobre el autor: Georges Simenon (1903-1989) fue uno de los autores del siglo XX de más éxito de novelas negro-criminales. Sus 75 novelas y sus 28 relatos portagonizados por Maigret publicados entre 1931 y 1972 alcanzaron éxito internacional, (él es el único escritor de novelas negro-criminales no-anglosajón con renombre internacional). Sus historias de Maigret son consideradas por muchos como creadoras de una nueva corriente en la ficción negro-criminal, destacando el perfil social y psicológico en lugar de poner el acento en un enigma que resolver o en la “acción”.