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A Man's Head (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 31 Aug 2006

4.4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; paperback / softback edition (31 Aug. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141025891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141025896
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 1 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 895,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

Maigret ranks with Holmes and Poirot in the pantheon of fictional detective immortals. ("People") [Simenon was] a writer who, more than any other crime novelist, combined a high literary reputation with popular appeal. (P. D. James)

About the Author

Georges Simenon was born at Liege in Belgium in 1903. He published over 160 books and his work has been admired by almost all the leading French and English critics. His books have been translated into more than 20 languages and more than 40 have been filmed.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After a few weeks where the World Cup interrupted my reading time, a restless night has enabled me to read this book in pretty quick time.

This is an early Maigret novel; wonderfully capturing the inspector's brooding presence and demonstrating his bloodhound qualities of seeking out his man and establishing justice.
Detective Chief Inspector Maigret is unhappy about a recent double murder which he didn't oversee after making an arrest. Subsequently there was trial and the convicted murdered abandoned by even his family waits on the Santé prison's High Surveillance wing for execution.
He comes up with a scheme to flush out the real killer but in the process he places his own reputation and career on the line. The plan is to allow the prisoner to think his 'accomplice' has arranged for his jail break and to follow him to see where he goes once he is free to wander around Paris.

Nothing goes to plan and never has Maigret had more to lose as he has given himself just ten days to save his name and job. It becomes a war of nerves and a challenge of minds as Maigret's gamble to save a man's life is played out. However, although he becomes convinced the fall guy was framed the murder appears to have been the perfect crime.

This has all the drama of Pietr the Latvian. This is Maigret at his very best seemingly married to his job, managing his detective team when he can't be everywhere and accepting their limitations. He relies on his creative investigatory skills to their maximum but has he come up against his nemesis.

This is classic Maigret and every word in this engaging books a joy to read.

I thank Penguin once again for re-releasing the complete series Maigret novels in modern translations and I would encourage all crime fiction lovers to return to these classical stories or even find them for the first time.
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Format: Paperback
That is the cry when the condemned convict Joseph Huertin escapes from death row in a Parisian jail. Huertin had been tried and convicted of the brutal murder of a rich American widow and her maid. This escape would ordinarily be one for famed Inspector Maigret to investigate. However, it turns out that it was Maigret who placed the escape in motion. Maigret, who arrested Huertin in the first instance, has had doubts about his guilt. Huertin's mental skills are minimal but he didn't strike Maigret as someone, in the absence of any possible motive, who could plan and execute such a brutal pair of murders. Maigret has arranged for Huertin to escape in the hopes that Huertin will lead Maigret to the real killer.

For those not familiar with his work 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. Simenon and Maigret seem to have fallen under the radar in recent decades but in recent years he seems to have been rediscovered by a new generation of mystery/detective story fans. Penguin Books has begun to reissue some of those Maigret mysteries and the New York Review of Books Press has reissued some of his `hard stories', stories that did not feature Inspector Maigret. Simenon's Inspector Maigret Mystery, "A Man's Head" was an exciting book that lived up to the expectations of its opening chapter.

"A Man's Head" does not stray from the 20th-century detective formula. There is a murder or series of murders, a number of possible suspects, and a detective or investigator tasked with putting the pieces together and solving the crime. So fans of the detective genre will find the form and structure of the book `comfortable'.
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Format: Paperback
A Man's Head is another of the early Maigret novels, from the bumper crop that appeared in 1931. Like other titles from this period of Simenon's writing career, it's very much evidence of an emerging talent, rather than the fully formed article, which you'd expect in so young a writer.

The story is actually quite pacy and convoluted, but Simenon's strength - even at this early age - was his skill in social observation and the ability to capture the atmosphere of the times with few words. There is a cleverness here, because reading the books almost 80 years on, they still manage to feel contemporary. Nothing about the time and place seems particularly dated, proving that Simenon concentrated on charatcer and mood as much as plot to tell his stories.

Another interesting fact that emerges in this particular story is Maigret is already in his mid-forties, so again, Simenon shows good ability at writing about mature characters. This of course, improved with the later titles, but all the ingredients that came together so brilliantly when the series hit its stride are in evidence here.

Plotwise, it's engaging enough, but it feels a bit rushed at the end, and strands of the story need to be explained by Maigret to the magistrate to bring things to a meaningful conclusion. Overall, an entertaining enough early title in the series.
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an early maigret (1931) from the first tranche published. Dark and confusing, and unlike the later books, you don't get much of a view of maigret's thought processes, just an account of what happens. A classic of the canon, all the same.
Chris Heneghan
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