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on 28 July 2011
Very similar to 'My Friend Maigret', this time set on the canal, Simenon conjures up the usual array of odd characters and set of murders(?)(wait and see).Not Vigo's take on canal life and miles from Rick Stein's cosy meanderings or Narrow Dog to Carcasonne. Full of rich characters in 1930s France. Anyone hooked on the Maigret stories will enjoy Lock 14 one of the main Maigret novels forming part of the Penguin Red Cover series that includes the better known stories some of which have been dramatised on Radio 4 and available a few years back on tape starring Nicholas le Prevot as Maigret (perhaps the best since Rupert Davies- why the BBC have not released the latter's series is a mystery in itself. Michael Gambon's ITV series is so flat to my mind). As usual Simenon's short novels waste little in carrying the story forward; a model of brevity for today's writers. Not too taxing for those unfamiliar with Maigret stories- Enjoy! Particularly as sellers with Amazon are discounting the Penguin series presently.
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on 25 March 2016
Early Maigret police procedural about one, then two murders in a setting Georges Simenon was quite familiar with, but Maigret not at all: the world of river transport on France’s rivers and canals with plenty of locks to overcome differences in altitude. In 1930, motorized freight ships and yachts competed for space with vessels drawn by pairs of workhorses straining forward at 3 kms/hr, 14 hours per day. Stables amidships housed the horses and their whip-carrying attendants overnight. Each lock and its four doors was managed by a low level functionary in tandem with vessels’ occupants. To cater for time waiting and daily necessities, each lock had a nearby shop annex café with room(s) for rent and a horse stable. In such a stable-- near Lock 14 of a canal heading south—a woman is found strangled beneath the straw. When found, she had been dead for hours. She was an occupant of a yacht.
Strong early case with real police work and a small number of possible perpetrators or accomplices. Then, another strangling, the victim an associate of the dead woman. The yacht, meanwhile, is on its way south. Whereupon Maigret rents a bicycle and also heads south on the towpath to question crews, captains, lock keepers to confirm a nagging suspicion.
Simenon was quite knowledgeable about shipping, sailing and other maritime matters and clearly enjoyed showing this expertise. Well plotted and –written and an insightful snapshot of France halfway between the wars.
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VINE VOICEon 3 October 2011
"Lock 14" is one of the earliest Maigret titles - one of several that Simenon rattled off in 1931. The plot brings together some of Simenon's own loves in life - waterways and boats, and the atmosphere of life led in this environment is well-drawn. Naturally, it all feels very removed from our own sense of modern living, but the emotions that drive the characters to act as they do are certainly contemporary.

This early title in the series suffers in some part from the translation, which is odd in places and a little jumbled when some of the characters use extended passages of dialogue. Very much a formative story in the series, Maigret is a well-drawn and canny detective, but not yet the mature and sympathetic man he became in the later stories. But even at this early stage in his writing career, Simenon shows a masterful sense of economy with words, creating mood and atmosphere in a few well-chosen sentences. It was a style he would perfect in later books.
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on 26 January 2015
The autumnal setting of a damp and wet canal in Northern France, a murder that confounds everyone, a yacht with some eccentric characters including a very wealthy caricature of an upper crust Englishman en route to the South of France, a beautiful woman and an odd mute bargee. What more do you want from Simenon's second outing of Maigret ?
The date is circa 1932 and we have still an industrial canal system that is like a busy water motorway with traffic coming and going but also providing the means by which Maigret is able to stop and question everyone, several times over. Until, in his inimitable way, he solves and reveals the crime of passion that has echoes of many French stories.
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on 31 July 2014
brilliant make you fell your in the wet landscape with him. based around the marne canal system in France Simenon writes in a plain clear way and sets his plot in wet dripping surroundings that draw you into the lives of the canal people.
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Georges Simenon was the author of over 100 Inspect Maigret mystery stories. They were immensely popular in the 1930s through the 1960s but seem to have fallen out of view in the last few decades. Penguin Books has begun to reissue some of those mysteries. They are all fun books to read and Simenon's "Lock 14" is no exception.

Originally published in 1931, Lock 14 is set in a canal in France at a time when commercial barge traffic was a primary means of transporting cargo. The canals were filled with a mix of commercial and tourist traffic which effectively created a mix of upper and working class personalities. Lock 14 begins, as most such mysteries do, with a dead body. A young woman is found dead in a pile of muck, murdered in a stable near Lock 14. She was from a party of seemingly wealthy tourists leading a `debauched' life on the river. Inspector Maigret is called to the scene. He must sort through the muck and find the killer. There are many suspects and more murders soon follow. The rest of the book is devoted to Maigret's attempt to sort out the facts from fiction and find the killer. To reveal any more would spoil the plot.

Simenon's Inspector Maigret mysteries are often compared to Christie's Hercule Poirot mysteries. There are many resemblances to be sure. Both follow typical `plot guidelines' for detective stories; they involve numerous suspects and a conflict between the intelligent observations of the hero and the less astute detective work of the local constabulary. There are some major differences however worth noting. The chief differences seem to me to be Simenon's darker touch and his more diverse selection of `characters'. Whereas Christie's stories most often involved an upper crusty cast of characters, Simenon's characters often come from more inauspicious backgrounds. I also think that Simenon is earthier than Christie (and others). The passengers on the tourist barge were decadent and living a pretty wild existence. The working men and women on the canal and in the towns along the canal are well drawn, rough edges and all. This was a nice change from the parlor room type mystery where everyone speaks with a sophisticated accent of some sort.

Finally, for me, the centerpiece of any detective story of this type is the character of the detective. In the case of Maigret, the more I read of him (three Maigret stories to date) the more I enjoy his character. All in all I found Simenon's Lock 14 to be an enjoyable detective/mystery story. It was a fast-paced well written story with believable characters. Recommended. L. Fleisig
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on 8 May 2013
These books are very enjoyable. They are small enough to put in my bag if I am travelling and I can zip through one quickly. Good service and delivery
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on 25 July 2014
What's to say. George Simenon (and his somnambulant Maigert) never ceases to entertain. This translation is the best.
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