Category: Georges Simenon

Review: Maigret, Lognon and the Gangsters, 1952 (Inspector Maigret #39) by Georges Simenon (Trans: William Hobson)

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Penguin Classics, 2017. Format: Paperback edition. First published simultaneously by Presses de la Cité, 1952  and in the Revue des deux Mondes, under the title Maigret et les Gangsters, between 15 March and 15 May. 1952. This translation by William Hobson first published in 2017. ISBN: 978-0-241-25066-2. 192 pages. First published translated by Louise Varèse as Inspector Maigret and the Killers, 1954 in the United States in hardback format by Doubleday. The first British edition appeared in 1974 by Hamish Hamilton.

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707 (1)Book description: In book thirty-nine of the new Penguin Maigret, the Inspector learns that his hapless colleague Lognon is being menaced by some notorious American mobsters, and he makes it his mission to bring them to justice – despite threatening warnings that he is out of his depth.

My take: Between 1945 and 1955 Simenon self-exiled in America, first in Canada and shortly afterwards in the United States. According to Wikipedia, during his “American” period, Simenon reached the height of his creative powers. At that time Presses de la Cité became his exclusive publisher. Of the fifty Maigrets comprising the Presses de la Cité cycle, twenty were written in America, two unfold in the States, Maigret in New York and Maigret at the Coroner’s, and this one,is closely related with his American experience. The story begins when Madame Lognon phones Commissaire Maigret. She is much worried by her husband’s whereabouts. In the last two days he has not return back home from work, and this is something he had never done before. Besides, today she has received the visit of two, shady characters that looked like a couple of  American mobsters. This was the second unannounced visit she has received lately, another American visited her the day before yesterday.

Despite his fervent ambition to become part of Quai de Orfèvres, Inspector Lognon is in fact assigned to the ninth arrondissement. Lognon is a hard character to handle. He always blames the others for everything that happens to him. He doesn’t get along well with none of his colleagues. He hates the older officers for being older than him and, to the younger, for their youth. When Maigret is, at last, able to get in touch with him, Lognon tells Maigret that while he was after the trail of a drug transaction, he became witness to a strange incident. He saw how the body of a man was thrown onto the sidewalk, from a car in motion. The people in the car did not take notice of his presence. Lognon, upon realising the man was still alive, rushed to find a telephone booth to ask for help. At the same time, a second car emerged suddenly at full speed. Lognon could not see the number plate, but then he realised that man dumped on the sidewalk was no longer there. With few tracks to follow Lognon chooses to keep under surveillance a bar often visited by American citizens.

In this book, Simenon takes the opportunity to describe the differences between the American police and their French counterparts. In fact Maigret feels the challenge in front of the insistent opinion that he should abandon this case and leave it to the FBI. The gangsters of the story are real professionals who will stop at nothing, in contrast with the French criminals who are only amateurs and behave in a more gentlemanly way. Obviously Maigret will turn a deaf ear to these warnings to disentangle the mystery, feeling upset by the American interference on French soil.

Maigret Lognon and the Gangsters is a highly entertaining read. In a certain sense is quite different to the rest of the series and has, in my view, a much more funny tone. It is much closer to a police procedural than to a standard Maigret investigation, and it does contain some criticism regarding the behaviour of civil servants.

My rating: A ( I loved it)

About the author: Georges Simenon (1903–1989) began work as a reporter for a local newspaper at the age of sixteen, and at nineteen he moved to Paris to embark on a career as a novelist. He went on to write seventy-five Maigret novels and twenty-eight Maigret short stories.

About the translator: Will Hobson is a writer and translator and a former contributing editor to Granta magazine. His translations from French and German include the Goncourt Prize winner The Battle by Patrick Rambaud, The Collector of Worlds by Iliya Troyanov, and Being Arab by Samir Kassir, which won the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award.

Maigret, Lognon and the Gangsters has been reviewed at Crime Review, Simenon Simenon,

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Georges Simenon Website

Maigret, Lognon and the Gangsters 

Maigret of the Month: April, 2007

Tout Maigret

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Maigret, Lognon y los gángsteres, de Georges Simenon

Descripción del libro: En la entrega número treinta y nueve de los misterios de Maigret, nuestro inspector se entera de que su desgraciado colega Lognon está siendo amenazado por unos conocidos mafiosos norteamericanos, y convierte en su misión el llevarlos ante la justicia, a pesar de las amenzantes advertencias de su falta de experiencia.

Mi opinión: Entre 1945 y 1955, Simenon se autoexilió en América, primero en Canadá y poco después en Estados Unidos. Según Wikipedia, durante su período “americano”, Simenon alcanzó el zenit de su capacidad creadora. En ese momento Presses de la Cité se convirtió en su editor exclusivo. De los cincuenta Maigrets que componen el ciclo de Presses de la Cité, veinte fueron escritos en América, dos se desarrollan en Estados Unidos, Maigret en Nueva York y Maigret en los dominios del “córoner”, y éste, está estrechamente relacionado con su experiencia americana. La historia comienza cuando Madame Lognon llama al Comisario Maigret. Está muy preocupada por el paradero de su marido. En los últimos dos días no ha regresado a casa del trabajo, y esto es algo que nunca había hecho antes. Además, hoy ha recibido la visita de dos personajes malencarados que parecían un par de mafiosos norteamericanos. Esta fue la segunda visita sin previo aviso que recibió últimamente, otro estadounidense la visitó antes de ayer.

A pesar de su ferviente ambición por formar parte del equipo de Quai de Orfèvres, el Inspector Lognon está de hecho adscrito al noveno distrito. Lognon es un personaje difícil de manejar. Siempre culpa a los demás por todo lo que le sucede. No se lleva bien con ninguno de sus colegas. Odia a los oficiales mayores por ser mayores que él y, a los más jóvenes, por su juventud. Cuando Maigret, por fin, puede ponerse en contacto con él, Lognon le dice a Maigret que mientras estaba tras el rastro de un intercambio de drogas, fue testigo de un extraño incidente. Vio cómo el cuerpo de un hombre fue arrojado a la acera, desde un automóvil en marcha. La gente del coche no se dio cuenta de su presencia. Lognon, al darse cuenta de que el hombre aún estaba vivo, se apresuró a buscar una cabina telefónica para pedir ayuda. Al mismo tiempo, un segundo coche surgió repentinamente a toda velocidad. Lognon no pudo ver la matrícula, pero luego se dio cuenta de que el hombre abandonado en la acera ya no estaba allí. Con pocas pistas para poder seguir Lognon elige mantener bajo vigilancia un bar que a menudo es visitado por ciudadanos estadounidenses.

En este libro, Simenon aprovecha la oportunidad para describir las diferencias entre la policía estadounidense y sus homólogos franceses. De hecho, Maigret siente el desafío frente a la insistente opinión de que debe abandonar este caso y dejarlo al FBI. Los mafiosos de la historia son auténticos profesionales que no se detendrán ante nada, en contraste con los criminales franceses que son sólo aficionados y se comportan de una manera más caballeresca. Obviamente, Maigret hará oídos sordos a estas advertencias para desentrañar el misterio, sintiéndose molesto por la interferencia estadounidense en suelo francés.

Maigret Lognon y los gangsteres es una lectura muy entretenida. En cierto sentido es muy diferente al resto de la serie y tiene, en mi opinión, un tono mucho más divertido. Está mucho más cerca de una investigación policial que de una investigación estándar de Maigret, y contiene algunas críticas sobre el comportamiento de los funcionarios públicos.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Sobre el autor: Georges Simenon (1903-1989) comenzó a trabajar como reportero  en un periódico local a la edad de dieciséis años, y a los diecinueve años se trasladó a París para emprender su carrera como novelista. A continuación escribió setenta y cinco novelas y veintiocho relatos protagonizados por Maigret.

Es de lamentar que la editorial Acantilado, tras el prematuro fallecimiento de su editor Jaume Vallcorba, no ha continuado con su proyecto de ofrecer al lector español la serie completa de novelas de Maigret. Al margen de unos pocos títulos, el resto de libros sólo están disponibles en libros de saldo o de segunda mano. Libros de saldo: Georges Simenon por Ricardo Bosque. Lo dicho una lástima.

In Praise of …. The Cellars of the Majestic

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707 (3)Sometimes we wonder what would be the best book to get to know an author, before we decide on reading some other books. Eventually the question can be if you can only read one of his/her books, which one would you pick? To answer both questions I was glad to discover the following article by David P Simmons on Simenon Simenon, Georges Simenon & Maigret International Dailyblog The best novel to sample the author? I fully concur.

But please note I’m not saying The Cellars of the Majestic is the best Maigret. I simply don’t know the answer to that question, and to be honest, I don’t care. I rather talk about my favourites, …etc. 

My review is available here.

Three Covers for …. Maigret Sets a Trap

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From left to right the TV tie-in cover for the paperback edition published in the UK on March 2016, the UK e-book cover published on March 2016, and the UK and US paperback covers to be publish on Oct 2017 and May 2018 respectively.

The Media tie-in or TV tie-in cover refers to newly published editions of a novel on which a film was based, sometimes renamed to match the film’s title and using promotional art created for the film.

Now the question is whether there’s any difference between both texts. And, as far as I know the only difference lies in the cover. The “TV tie-in” will have pictures of the actors from the TV series on the cover.  While other covers would not.

The "Gallimard Cycle"

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The “Gallimard Cycle” comprises the six Maigret books published  between 1942 and 1944, namely 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). They marked the return of Simenon to his character ‘in spite of himself’ and they evoke marvelously the world of the Chief Inspector (source: Which Maigret to Read First? by Murielle Wenger).  Eight years had passed since the publication of his last Maigret book, Maigret, aka Maigret Returns. George Simenon was willing to end his series with that book. In fact, when the story begins, Maigret is already retired and lives with his wife in Meung-sur-Loire. Fortunately, that was not the case. I’ve read so far The Cellars of the Majestic and Signed, Picpus. Which in my view are among his best. My plan is to read the other four in due time. Stay tuned.

Review: Maigret Sets a Trap, 1955 (Inspector Maigret #48) by Georges Simenon (Trans: Siân Reynolds)

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

Penguin Classics, 2016. Format: Paperback edition. First published in French as Maigret tend un piège by Presses de la Cité, 1955. This translation by Siân Reynolds first published in 2016. ISBN: 978-0-241-24030-4. Pages 176. There is a previous translation under the same title, dated 1965 by Daphne Woodward

Bcover.jpg.rendition.460.707ook description: Detective Chief Inspector Maigret is known for his infallible instinct, for getting at the truth no matter how complex the case, but when someone starts killing women on the streets of Montmartre, he finds himself confounded. In the sweltering Paris summer heat, with the city in a state of siege, Maigret hatches a plan to lure the murderer out …

My take: Maigret sets a trap is the forty-eight book among Maigret Mystery Series. It is included in the so-called Presses de la Cité cycle, the last of the three cycles in which his novels are, often, classed. And it was written twenty-four years after the publication of Pietr the Latvian, the first in the series. It was also the first Maigret written by Simenon after his definitive return to Europe, following his ten years of self-exile in Canada and the United States. Once I finished reading the novels in the Fayard cycle, I was interested in figuring out how his books had evolved. Besides, in certain sense, this book marks a “turning point” in the development of Maigret, he has become more reflective and he is increasingly self-questioning the why of the things. Apart from the fact that the presence of the members of his team, in his investigations, plays a more significant role. Up to the extent that, Maigret sets a trap, can be rated as a police procedural. It can also be noted a significant presence of journalists in their zeal to obtain a scoop  in a case that has aroused the public interest.

Over the past six months, five women who, …, had been on their way home or to see a friend, five women on foot in the streets Paris, had been the victims of the same murderer.

Strangely enough, all five crimes had been committed in just one of Paris’ twenty arrondissements, the 18th, Montmartre, and not only the same arrondissement but the same part of it, a very specific area which could be described as being between four Métro stations: Lamarck, Abbesses, Place Blanche and Place Clichy.

But, apart from a certain physical resemblance of all victims, it has not been possible to establish a common pattern that might provide some clue. In a desperate attempt, Maigret devises a bold plan, a trap, to detain a serial killer before he can strike again. Perhaps, I’ve found in chapter two, the most interesting element of the book in a conversation between Maigret and Professor Tissot when they gather to dinner at a mutual friend’s home. When asked about his view, professor Tissot tells Maigret:

‘Faced with a series of crimes like the ones we’re talking about most people will react by assuming that it must be the work of a maniac, a madman. And by and large, that is true. To kill five women in the circumstances surrounding these five murders, for no apparent reason, and then to lacerate their garments, certainly does not correspond to the behaviour of a normal man as we would think of it.’

To add, further on, that science has not been able yet to find an answer to certain cases.

‘If I subscribed blindly to the theories of Freud or Adler, or even today’s psychoanalysts, I wouldn’t hesitate to say that our man is a sexual maniac, even though none of his victims was attacked sexually….

‘I could talk about complexes too, and impressions formed in early childhood.’

‘And you would reject such an explanation?’

‘I wouldn’t reject anything, but I distrust glib solutions.’

‘And you don’t have a personal theory?’

‘Theory, no. An idea perhaps, but I’m a little afraid, I confess to mention it to you, because you carry responsibility for the investigation on your shoulders.’

And he ends up saying: ‘What I’m saying now isn’t an orthodox opinion, …, but I am convinced that so-called motiveless crimes are above all a display of pride’

All this just confirms, in my view that Simenon, despite all his great accomplishments was willing to undertake new risks, entering into unknown territories. Whether he succeeded or not, is up to you, his readers, to decide.

My rating: A (I loved it)

About the author: 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. (Source: Goodreads)

About the translator: Born in Cardiff, Siân Reynolds taught at the universities of Sussex and Edinburgh before being appointed to the Chair of French at Stirling (1990-2004). Since taking early retirement, she has acted as consultant for the School, while continuing with research and translation.Among recent publications, she was co-editor of the Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women (EUP, 2005), and authored Paris-Edinburgh: cultural connections in the Belle Epoque (Ashgate, 2007, shortlisted for the Saltire Society History Prize). Her latest book is a double biography of two French revolutionaries: Marriage and Revolution: Monsieur and Madame Roland (OUP 2012). She has translated many books on French history, including most of the works of Fernand Braudel. Recent translations include fiction by Virginie Despentes, Antonin Varenne and French crime novelist, Fred Vargas. Four Vargas translations have been awarded the Crime Writers’ Association International Dagger (2006, 2007, 2009, 2013). She is currently Chair of the Scottish Working People’s History Trust, honorary vice-president of the Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France, and honorary Fellow of the IGRS. In 2010 she was promoted Officier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques, and in 2013 elected Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales. She is a member of the editorial board of the journal Clio, Femmes, Genre, Histoire, currently taking responsibility for the online English version. (Source: University of Stirling)

Maigret Sets a Trap has been reviewed at What are you reading for…?

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Maigret Sets a Trap 

Maigret of the Month: January, 2008

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Maigret Sets a Trap – ITV review by Martin Edwards

Maigret tiende una trampa, de Georges Simenon

Sinopsis: En seis meses, cinco mujeres han sido asesinadas en Montmartre, pero no hay una sola pista que permita descubrir al asesino. Tras conversar con un renombrado psiquiatra, Maigret sospecha que los crímenes esconden una psicología demencial y difícil de descifrar. Tal vez anunciar el arresto de un falso culpable incitaría al criminal… pero ¿hasta dónde arriesgarse para atrapar al culpable? En esta nueva entrega del comisario Maigret, Simenon disecciona la terrorífica figura del asesino en serie, incorporando, de forma magistral, claves psicológicas.

Mi opinión: Maigret tiende una trampa es el libro que hace el número cuarenta y ocho en la serie de misterio de Maigret. Está incluido en el llamado ciclo Presses de la Cité, el último de los tres ciclos en el que sus novelas están generalmente clasificadas. Fue escrito veinticuatro años después de la publicación de Pietr el letón, el primero de la serie. También fue el primer Maigret escrito por Simenon después de su regreso definitivo a Europa, tras sus diez años de autoexilio en Canadá y Estados Unidos. Una vez que terminé de leer las novelas del ciclo Fayard, me interesó averiguar cómo habían evolucionado sus libros. Además, en cierto sentido, este libro marca un “punto de inflexión” en el desarrollo de Maigret, se ha vuelto más reflexivo y se está cuestionando cada vez más el por qué de las cosas. Aparte del hecho de que la presencia de los miembros de su equipo, en sus investigaciones, juega un papel más significativo. Hasta el punto de que, Maigret tiende una trampa, puede ser calificado como un procedimiento policial. También se puede hacer notar una presencia significativa de periodistas en su afán por obtener una primicia en un caso que ha despertado el interés público.

Durante los últimos seis meses, cinco mujeres que … … iban camino a casa o a ver a un amigo, cinco mujeres a pie por las calles de París, habían sido víctimas del mismo asesino.

Curiosamente, los cinco crímenes se habían cometido en uno de los veinte distritos parisinos, el 18, Montmartre, y no sóloen  el mismo distrito, sino en la misma parte, un área muy específica que se podía circunscribir a cuatro estaciones del metro : Lamarck, Abbesses, Place Blanche y Place Clichy.

Pero, aparte de una cierta semejanza física de todas las víctimas, no ha sido posible establecer un patrón común que pueda proporcionar alguna pista. En un intento desesperado, Maigret diseña un plan atrevido, una trampa, para detener a un asesino en serie antes de que pueda atacar de nuevo. Tal vez, he encontrado en el capítulo dos, el elemento más interesante del libro en una conversación entre Maigret y el profesor Tissot cuando se reúnen para cenar en la casa de un amigo común. Cuando le pregunta sobre su punto de vista, el profesor Tissot le dice a Maigret:

— Frente a una serie de crímenes como los que estamos hablando la mayoría de la gente reaccionará asumiendo que debe ser obra de un maníaco, un loco. Y en general, eso es cierto. Matar a cinco mujeres en las circunstancias que rodean a estos cinco asesinatos, sin motivo aparente, y luego a lacerar sus vestidos, ciertamente no se corresponde con el comportamiento de un hombre normal como pensábamos.

Para añadir, más adelante, que la ciencia no ha podido todavía encontrar una respuesta a ciertos casos.

–Si suscribiera indiscriminadamente las teorías de Freud o Adler, o incluso las de los psicoanalistas actuales, no dudaría en decir que nuestro hombre es un maníaco sexual, aunque ninguna de sus víctimas fue atacada sexualmente ….

— Podría hablar también de complejos e impresiones formadas en su primera infancia.

— ¿Y usted rechazaría tal explicación?

— No rechazaría nada, pero desconfío de las soluciones simplistas.

— ¿Acaso no tiene usted una teoría personal?

— Teoría, no. Tal vez una idea, pero tengo un poco de miedo, confieso decírle, porque usted lleva la responsabilidad de la investigación sobre sus hombros.

Y termina diciendo: “Lo que estoy diciendo ahora no es una opinión ortodoxa, …, pero estoy convencido de que los así llamados asesinatos sin motivo son ante todo una muestra de vanidad”

Todo esto confirma, en mi opinión, que Simenon, a pesar de todos sus grandes logros estaba dispuesto a asumir nuevos riesgos, entrando en territorios desconocidos. Si tuvo éxito o no, depende de ustedes, sus lectores, decidir.

Mi valorción: A (Me encantó)

Acerca del autor: Georges Simenon (Lieja, Bélgica, 1903 – Lausana, Suiza, 1989) escribió ciento noventa y una novelas con su nombre, y un número impreciso de novelas y relatos publicados con pseudónimo, además de libros de memorias y textos dictados. El comisario Maigret es el protagonista de setenta y cinco de estas novelas y veintiocho relatos breves, todos ellos publicados entre 1931 y 1972. Célebre en el mundo entero, reconocido ya como un maestro, hoy nadie duda de que sea uno de los mayores escritores del siglo XX.

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