I know, I know. Why has it taken me this long to get around to reading Georges Simenon’s great series about the formidable Detective Chief Inspector Maigret? Too many books and so little time, perhaps. Well, I am going to be taking care of that tout suite. This book is the 4th Maigret book, part of the new English translations the publisher Penguin is rolling out.
Maigret is on his way back from Brussels when he notices a shabbily dressed man stuffing a lot of banknotes into an envelope addressed to France. He is naturally curious and undertakes a little subterfuge in which he purchases an identical cardboard suitcase to what the man is carrying and switches it. Unfortunately, when the man discovers that his case has been taken, becomes so distraught he kills himself. Oh dear. Now Maigret really has a mystery on his hands as he seeks to discover who this man really is (he was traveling under an assumed name) and in the process unearths a long ago crime involving a group of university students.
I am looking forward to plunging into the 75 or so Maigrets. They are quick and easy reads and Maigret himself is a unique character. I can see that Fred Vargas has made a tiny nod to him in her Commissaire Adamsberg character. Maigret doesn’t have superhuman powers of observation a la Sherlock but he is a keen observer of humanity and he gets a lot done by simply listening and watching. Besides, how can you not love a sleuth that always takes time for a nice biere or local vin and a nosh?