Top positive review
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Atmospheric and beautifully observed
on 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.