Maigret Omnibus: The Folio Society
Three Maigret novels published in a slipcase by the Folio Society.
Maigret in Society
The Comte Armand de St Hilaire, a retired ambassador, is found murdered in his study one morning by his faithful housekeeper, Jacquette. He has been shot through the head - the shot that killed him, then shot in the body. Maigret investigates, and immediately finds himself in the world of the aristocracy, romantic love, and the unfailing loyalty of retainers.
Maigret soon finds out that the Comte has been conducting a romantic but platonic affair with Princess Isabelle de V whom he had hoped tomarry when they were young, But her family objected, and instead she married Prince Hubert de Vby who she had a son. The Prince, who knew of the affair and didn't object, then died, and the couple would have been free to marry.
However, not only is Maigret out of his depth when dealing with the aristocracy, he is also at a loss as to who killed the Comte. He can find no one with a motive, though he suspects that Jacquette, who refuses to answer questions when interrogated, has crucial information However, after coferring in private with a priest, she opens up, and Maigret solves the case.
This is a Maigret whodunit where the solution is staring us in the face all through the narrative, yet when it comes the denouement it still surprises. As usual, Simenon uses the minimum of words to convery the maximum of meaning. The book is more than just a police procedural, and as the last few words of the book illustrate, and the case had affected Maigret greatly, and in this respect it shows a side of him that we rarely see. The dialogue is superb, it carries the book forward, and the characters are not ciphers but breathing, living people.
How Maigret does it is beyond this reviewer, but he is grateful that he did.
The body of a young woman called Louise Filon (known as Lily) is discovered in her Avenue Carnot flat by her cleaner, and Maigret is called in to investigate. No gun is found, so suicide is immediately ruled out. She has been shot at close range, and there seems to be no apparent motive. Maigret, however, is puzzled by another aspect of the case - how could she afford to live in such an expensive flat when she had, before taking up residence, been a prostitute? Could she be the mistress of a man of wealth. To complicate the investigation, Maigret is hampered by the apartment block's concierge and the Gouin's cleaning lady, who seem to know more that t hey are prepared to admit.
Lulu had a boyfriend, a musician known as Pierrot, a musician, and he has disappeared. Is he the murderer? A search is organised. But then Maigret discovers that it is 62 year-old Doctor Ėtienne Gouin, who lives in the top floor flat of the apartment building with his wife, who has set Lulu up in the flat. When a post mortem on Lily conforms that she is pregnant, suspicion falls on the doctor, who would want to cover up his philandering. Could he be the murderer? However, it turns out that his wife, a former nurse, approves of the arrangement. In fact, it was her who suggested it in the first place. Surely Madame Gouin, could not be the murderer? The denouement, when it comes, is unexpected, but all the information had been placed before the reader by Simenon beforehand.
This is one of Simenon's more obscure mysteries, though it deserves to be better known. The characterisation is flawless, and Maigret's approach is, as usual, cautious, drawing as it does from his intimate knowledge of Paris and its people. The dialogue sparkles, as it always does, and information is imparted merely by t he way suspects answer questions in a seemingly innocent way, one of Simenon's literary tricks. Another superb story from a crime writing master.
Maigret Sets a Trap
A serial killer has already stabbed to death four young women in Montmartre, slashing their clothes with a knife after he does so. Maigret is baffled. He is also grumpy, as a stifling heat wave has engulfed the city. At a small dinner party, he meets Professor Tissot of the Sainte-Anne Psychiatric Institution, and they discuss the serial killer's character and motives, one of which may be pride in what he does. Maigret hatches a plan. He will play on the killer's pride, and announce that he has arrested someone for the crimes. In this way he hopes to flush him out. This leads Maigret to a likely suspect, but while he is being questioned at the Quai des Orfèvres, the killer strikes again.
This is possibly one of Simenon's most famous books, and though simple, it introduces some perplexing and highly enjoyable puzzles. We see Maigret's doubting his own ability to conduct the investigation properly. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Review of All Three Books
What can anyone say about Simenon? His prose is as compelling and economical as ever, and the plots, while not fiendishly convoluted, still have the ability to surprise. To him, dialogue was action, while his ability, with as few words as possible, to capture someone's character is astonishing.
This Folio Society edition of three Maigret novels is in a cloth-bound slipcase, and each book is handsome and beautifully illustrated. It would make a welcome addition to the library of anyone who collects Simenon novels, or indeed, finely printed and bound books. The Folio Society has done Simenon proud.
Folio Society – Maigret Set Two – Georges Simenon
Reviewed by James Gracie