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In this story, the character of Maigret is almost complete: a largely solitary figure with a few close coleagues - in this novella it is Lucas - doggedly determined and inveterately curious. It is a mixture or coincidence and curiosity that leads him into this story: the erratic actions of a man who, for no understandable reason, commits suicide because he loses his suitcase in which there is nothing more than a dishevelled suit that could not belong to him. A mysterious businessman who visits the body in the morgue only stimulates Maigret's curiosity and here begins a story that takes the detective from Paris to Bremen and back and thence to Liege. This is a story in which seemingly respectable citizens will do everthing they can to obstruct and obfuscate the detectives search for an answer to his question as to why a man will leave his wife and child, travel from France to Germany, buy a meal he doesn't eat and carry a suitcase with clothes he doesn't own and then, take his own life, when he loses them. Maigret, both witness and protagonist in this event, must search for an answer.
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on 28 April 2014
This is a story of a crime committed by a group of students some 10 before; their individual responses in what was joint enterprise means they struggle to get on with their lives. Some have prospered but all carry the guilt and when a man down on his luck kills himself it acts as a new threat to uncover the past. Especially as in the next room was Maigret, who had been observing the man and witnessed his suicide but now has material evidence to solve the crime just weeks before the statute of limitations ends.
Great story, less than 140 pages but like any Simenon book no words are wasted. Maigret is a force of nature in his persistence to find the truth. He seems to champion the disenfranchised and poor. He gathers impressions and opinions, checking facts and fresh information to slowly solve this mystery. He places his own well being at risk by his determination to reveal and face the truth. However nothing seems to interfere with his need for food and drink. gain his investigations take him away from Paris a great deal, working alone but comfortable in his work. Never judgemental but always keen to solve the case.
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on 23 February 2015
A bizarrely romantic novella - with a big R.

This is the fourth novella in the Simenon series of Maigret and we have to suspend some of our belief due to Maigret deciding to follow his nose when he happens to see a man collect a parcel and catch a train. The fact that en route from Paris to Liege ( a six hour train journey which Maigret takes on speculation without informing his sidekick Lucas or his wife) Maigret switches suitcases with the man. Then he watches him commit suicide in a seedy hotel before then unraveling the back story. This entails a number of unexpected appearances of a wealthy businessman and an assortment of other men who are all known to one another and the deceased.

So, there has not been a murder to solve - yet. This becomes an intriguing historical story that involves the main suspects when they were young students pursuing a Romantic idyll that culminates in in a scene of real horror.

There are reminders of the history of the Romantic novelists such as Hugo in the context of the story which, as usual has an eye for the domestic impact of crime.
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on 27 April 2017
These books are so clever. Maigret is a thinking man, the reader isn't privy to his innermost thoughts, but the way in which he solves crimes are very original, part basic police work, part an understanding of human nature and always very very good.
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I expect that like most people although I have read some of the Maigret stories, I have not read all of them, and so for me this is the first time that I have read this particular book. The story starts when Maigret is in Brussels, meeting his colleagues in the Belgium police force, but when he sees a man who looks hard down on his luck posting a large sum of money to Paris he becomes intrigued.

With some time on his hands Maigret follows this man, even buying a cheap suitcase the same as this man buys. Maigret manages to swap cases with this man whilst he follows him into Germany, but this ultimately ends in tragedy, as the mysterious man shoots himself. What comes out next is that the man is obviously using a false name, as his passport is a fake, and even more bizarre, is that this man took his own life over the loss of a case of cheap, old clothes that are too big for him anyway.

Maigret knows that something fishy is going on and thus investigates, in a case that sees him back ultimately in Belgium, as all clues seem to lead to the city of Liege. With Maigret keeping bumping into the same people, and his footsteps dogged, and attempts on his life being made, will he ever get to the bottom of this baffling case?

If you have never read anything by Georges Simenon before if you do decide to purchase this book you will see why there has always been a large fan base for his works. What Simenon can do within 138 pages, which is the length of this book, others easily need four to five hundred pages. Tightly plotted and paced with a lot of care you get suspense, mystery, psychologically real characters, and a great read. This book is ideal for crime writers of today, as despite the fact that it was first published in 1931 it is still very modern in feel and shows how you can create a story in a minimal number of pages that is very readable and enjoyable.
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on 19 February 2014
A fleeting suspicion leads to Maigret trailing a shabby traveller across Europe until the unfortunate man’s suicide prompts the Inspector to dig into his quarry’s past and uncover a secret that has been festering for nearly a decade. The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien is the third Inspector Maigret novel and it is another excellent piece of detective fiction from Georges Simenon. The reasons for Maigret’s dogged investigation are very personal this time but his deductive reasoning is as sharp as ever. Maigret may play his cards infuriatingly close to his chest but following as he unravels the reasoning behind his suspect’s suicide and the mysterious contents of the man’s battered suitcase is an exciting and compelling business. I love these Penguin reissues – the only disappointment is that they are publishing just one Maigret book a month!
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on 3 June 2014
Again rich in dark and mainly gloomy atmosphere typical of my experience of Simenon's Maigret novels. Characters complex with dark pasts. Always enjoyable giving food for thought for man's frailities.
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on 12 November 2014
I've always liked Simenon's books but hadn't read this one, recently released.

It is short and rather old (dating from 1931) not that the period is very obvious.

It's unusual in that no real crime is being investigated, and it's not really clear whether Maigret has an official role (most things happen in Belgium). As things come to Maigret's notice it is clear that something bad happened ten years ago.

Maigret is very close to a suicide, which he may be partly responsible for. A Belgian appears who is too persistent to be a coincidence and he leads Maigret where he needs to go.

Very atmospheric.
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on 7 June 2015
I remembered loving the few Maigret books that I was able to get hold of when I was younger so was pleased when I saw that they had been re-issued. I must have read later volumes because the three read so far have been thin and plodding. There is some wonderful description and atmospheric writing (parts of which are unfortunately ruined by jarring "right-on" translation) but I shall persevere in the hope that the magic will return. If only the books weren't so overpriced...
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on 24 July 2014
It's marvellous that all the Maigret books are being re-issued in order. This, the first of the series, is an excellent introduction to Maigret's character and method of working, with an intricate plot that makes the brain work.It's also a superb evocation of Paris in the 1930s, that brooding and ominous decade.
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