Tuesday, December 11, 2007

book review - The Madman of Bergerac


The reason for choosing this book by Georges Simenon after the Idle Burglar is that this book finds a younger and more dynamic detective. The irony is that after he throws himself off a train at the start of the book to try to follow a mystery figure and gets shot in the shoulder as a reward Maigret is bed bound.

The book then takes on a Rear Window type feel with Maigret looking out of his hotel window down onto the town square of Bergerac. Despite not being able to move a great deal Maigret manages to upset and alienate the leading lights of the community and refuses to play along with the idea that the case has been solved with a body being found in the woods near the train track.

Most of the great detective stories evolve around a character that just seems to have a nose for deception and a gut feeling that leads to the killer. Maigret is no different and his dogged persistence of the doctor, his wife and sister-in-law and the prosecutor. He manages to unsettle them enough to solve the mystery but he risks his own reputation in his pursuit of the truth.

With so many detective's either being loners, divorced or in slowly disintegrating marriages it is rather touching to see Maigret relying on his wife as his eyes and ears when he is trapped in his hotel room. She understands not only his personality but by the end starts to appreciate his methods.

Maybe it is because he wrote so many books but Simenon never really pushes Maigret but lets the story flow. There is no angst filled moments when he pulls up in a car and stares out at a horizon and wonders whet he is doing with his life just a determined attempt to solve a crime and make a difference.

The other consequence of the output by Simenon is that you know there are so many books to choose from that there is no pressure to keep going straight from one book to another to finish a series. You do end this wanting to read more but knowing that Maigret will be there when the mood takes you.

Version read - Penguin paperback

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