Maigret's Dead Man

Others would have dismissed the annoying calls as pranks. But not Inspector Maigret who took them too personally but only to come up short.
Rated: PG13
Category: Police
Image Credit: joenibraw

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I didn’t know the extent of Inspector Maigret’s reputation. So far the only French-speaking detective I’m aware of was Hercule Poirot. Turns out this fella has a huge series of his own. So did Maigret become my favourite after I read this novel?

To me, Maigret was different. The man was incredibly cool and patient with a group of loyal constables and detectives. And perhaps because of years of experience as Chief Detective Inspector, acting upon a hunch, he took it seriously when he received an urgent call from an unknown man. When he was cut off as the caller panicked, Maigret quickly pulled together his network of policemen out in the streets. And it became personal, when the caller was found as a dead man, Maigret's dead man.

Just like Maigret, I was just as curious about the caller. I let myself be pulled by the fast flow of words done so naturally by its translator, David Coward. Pulled along into the streets of Paris in the 1940s, into cafes, drinking and eating french cuisines with Maigret and his companions. There were plenty of French names for restaurants and streets that I felt like a tourist being just ushered quickly along by an eloquent French tour guide showing off his elegant culture. Truly different from a British or an American writer. Sentences moved from one to another, cruising me along the River Seine, occasionally getting splashed around with its sly humourous undertones. I couldn’t stop reading and just let myself go...

The plot was simple - man found dead, capture culprit, case closed. All within 225 pages or so. But it wasn't such a relax read when a simple murder led me and Maigret to a bigger terrible one. Yet there weren’t such highly tensed moments that made me agitated. Perhaps being set in the forties meant things moved a tad slower and carefully. Also, Maigret's investigation process was different from any other fictional police detectives I've read. He was a practical man, getting stuck at times, hiding away in his apartment with a ‘bronchitis’ when it gets too much. Perhaps a real police investigation would be just as similar — lots of following false leads, lots of asking questions and plenty of tensed relationships with the upper management.

But my Paris tour must end, and what an ending it was! I won't spoilt it too much but let's just say I didn't expect Maigret to turn cold. The humour was gone as he confronted the true culprit. Yet, he was still a man with much of a heart even to this most cruel of criminals.

This was my first time reading a translation of a French novel. What a wonderful reading experience! An easy start to the upcoming mystery novels I'm gonna read in 2019. So far, Inspector Maigret is definitely on my list of fictional detectives to read.

Have you read Simenon’s Inspector Maigret’s series? What titles would you recommend?

From Book Depository
By (author) Georges Simenon , Translated by David Coward
Format Paperback | 240 pages
Publisher Penguin Books Ltd

Maigret plunges into the murky Parisian underworld in book twenty-nine of the new Penguin Maigret series.

'That shoeless foot looked incongruous lying on the pavement next to another foot encased in a shoe made of black kid leather. It was naked, private . . . It was Maigret who retrieved the other shoe which lay by the kerb six or seven metres away'

A series of strange phone calls leads Inspector Maigret through the Paris streets towards a man out of his depth amid a network of merciless criminals.

Penguin is publishing the entire series of Maigret novels in new translations. This novel has been published in a previous translation as Maigret's Special Murder.

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