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VINE VOICEon 1 November 2008
I've not read any Simenon since my teens, and what better author to take to Paris with me. This slim novel turned out to be a quite complex little murder mystery suffused with the languor of a hot summer in Paris. Maigret was planning to escape to join his wife (a prototype for Rumpole's 'She who must be obeyed' one thinks) in Alsace, but work gets in the way when he gets involved in trying to find a murderer amongst a disparate bunch of Parisiens who get together at weekends at a tavern down the Seine. A good little roman policier but I need to read some more Maigrets though to get a better measure of the pipe-smoking detective.
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VINE VOICEon 5 March 2011
Simenon was still under 30 when he wrote this Maigret novel (the eleventh in the series), but he shows a remarkable maturity of style here, and says a lot in very few words, with the book coming in at just around 120 pages. Slim and elegant, this early story in the Maigret series is beautifully observed - a snapshot of a Paris long since disappeared, and yet full of themes that resonate today.

Love, deceit and greed are at the heart of the story - 3 elements that make up the foundations of all crime stories really - but Simenon handles the ingredients in a subtle and deceptively simple way, drawing the strands together skilfully in a conclusion that shows the grubiness of human life. It leaves Maigret himself feeling world-weary and glad to be escaping the heat of the city to be spending time with his wife in the countryside.

Impressive stuff, and it says much about Simenon's skills that a book eighty years old still packs a punch today with its observations of human weaknesses and frailties. It's like the crime novel equivalent of Cartier-Bresson's photography: understated and observed from a slight distance, but offering new insights into what it is to be human. Recommended.
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That he doth work with his adulterate money on the Seine." Dante. The Divine Comedy

"The Bar of the Seine" begins with a curious conversation between Inspector Maigret and a prisoner, Lenoir, sitting in a cell on death-row in a Parisian jail. Lenoir's execution has been set for dawn on the next day and for Maigret, the person responsible for the capture and conviction of the prisoner, this visit is something of a courtesy call. During their conversation Lenoir tells Maigret about an unsolved murder. The only real information he provides is that some unidentified bar on the River Seine would lead Maigret in the right direction. As Maigret takes his leave of Lenoir he does not take the train to meet his wife at their summer vacation spot. Instead, he defers his vacation and sets out to investigate.

Maigret finds the bar in short order and walks into a world where a slice of the Parisian middle-class comes for its rather tawdry summer weekends. Drinking, cards, boating on the Seine and indiscriminate bed-hopping are the order of the day. There has also been a murder and, as befits a story planted so firmly in the detective genre, Maigret brushes aside all distractions to solve the mystery handed to him by a condemned man.

Georges Simenon was the author of over 100 Inspector Maigret mystery stories. They were immensely popular in the 1930s through the 1960s. Inspector Maigret stories also appeared in film and TV version. Penguin Books has begun to reissue a set of Maigret mysteries. "The Bar on the Seine", one of Simenon's earlier Maigret stories, is a good place to start.

Simenon's writing is sparse and to the point. This is a short book, 154 rather small pages, and can be read in one or two sittings. But despite its brevity this reader felt engaged not only by the characters (Maigret in particular) but the settings. Simenon doesn't tell you what to think of any particular character nor does he engage in lengthy discussions on his protagonists' morality or character. He simply paints a very evocative picture and leaves the analysis for the reader.

Simenon's Maigret stories, although faithful to the detective story formula of his time, manages to hold up better over time for me than others. I think that what sets Simenon's Maigret stories apart from those of his contemporaries is the character of Maigret and down to earth settings of the stories. Maigret is not a character that is revealed to the reader immediately. Simenon doesn't set about to provide you with a character map to Maigret's personality in any one book. Rather, he grows on you over time. He has an innate disdain for higher authority that is appealing. Simenon's settings and other characters also add a dash to his Maigret mysteries. These are not parlor room mysteries where the reader has to determine which upper-class member of the gentry (or the butler) committed murder most foul in the library.

Anyone interested in a good story, simply told should enjoy Bar on the Seine. L. Fleisig
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"The Bar on the Seine" is an early Inspector Maigret mystery and a very tale story indeed! The story itself--the investigation of a six-year old murder that leads to a second killing as Maigret skeptically begins a look at the earlier crime--is well told and keeps the reader turning pages until the end. But along the way, the details of daily life in Paris and the social interactions of Parisians are presented in such specific detail and so convincingly that it is like reading a newspaper of the period.

"The Bar" is a wonderful small novel and a terrific read. This book is part of a Penguin reprint of some of the Maigret stories (of which there are 75 novels and many stories). I will be among many who will attempt to read them all.
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on 3 October 2013
Simenon wrote so many of the Maigret stories its easy to become blasé, but I have enjoyed this one.
I would recommend it but I would also recommend his none Maigret stories.
Simenon was a great writer
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on 17 January 2014
My first Maigret!

Deeply impressed ... the writing has a magical and mysterious quality which the translator has managed retain.

It is clearly a period piece, and in one or two places I just felt the ENglish was a little too modern - but may be that a sign of my age.

I'm looking forward to the new releases on Kindle!
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on 12 February 2015
I have always been a keen reader of Maigret but have not had much success in locating any of the Books until now. I enjoyed this Book and will be looking to purchase some more in the near future.
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on 17 November 2015
My first Maigret book. Gentle and engaging stuff. Kept me wanting to read, but without being at all taxing.
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on 23 September 2014
A typical Simenon book. Maigret does the very unusual in detection until leading up to a Simenon climax.
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on 21 January 2015
Stylish and sometimes a little pedestrian, but definitely Simemon! Worth a read.
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