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Maigret et son Mort

I've had a Dutch edition of Maigret et son Mort by Georges Simenon in the house for almost two years, on loan from Jeroen (the lesson here is: do not lend me books), but hadn't got around to reading it until this weekend. Now that I've read it, I'd like to read some more Maigret. This one lived up to the series' reputation as literate, literary detective novels.

What I liked: the fact that throughout the first half of the novel, the characters took every opportunity to have a drink. Even a five-minute interruption in a stakeout and pursuit was used by the pursuer to knock back a nice cool one. The descriptions of the police work in which Maigret's individual brilliance solved part of the puzzle but the rest of it had to be filled in by relying on reports from other departments and off-the-record chats with minor underworld characters. This made it feel a lot more like real police work than the stylised version we get in detective novels where one person solves crimes alone.

I also liked the switch from fairly light-hearted to grim after the second killing. At that point, the boozing and puzzle-solving is superceded by mass raids and escalating accounts of the depravity of the criminals involved. There's a dark view of human nature contained in the novel - one in which tidy notions that a crime has to have a motive are given short shrift.

But let's not get too Gallic in my praise of the book. It's still a cop novel, not an existentialist magnum opus. It's a few hours spent in the company of the Inspector, his wife and his mates down the station. I'll have some more of that - but lending me the books is probably still a bad idea.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 20, 2005 6:57 PM.

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