Friday, 15 December 2017

A Maigret Christmas by Georges Simenon

A Maigret Christmas by Georges Simenon
First published by Presses de la Cite in France in French as Un Noel de Maigret in 1951. English language translation by David Coward published in the UK by Penguin on the 2nd November 2017.

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It is Christmas in Paris, but beneath the sparkling lights and glittering decorations lie sinister deeds and dark secrets...

This collection brings together three of Simenon's most enjoyable Christmas tales, newly translated, featuring Inspector Maigret and other characters from the Maigret novels. In 'A Maigret Christmas', the Inspector receives two unexpected visitors on Christmas Day, who lead him on the trail of a mysterious intruder dressed in red and white. In 'Seven Small Crosses in a Notebook', the sound of alarms over Paris send the police on a cat and mouse chase across the city. And 'The Little Restaurant in Les Ternes (A Christmas Story for Grown-Ups)' tells of a cynical woman who is moved to an unexpected act of festive charity in a nightclub - one that surprises even her...

Penguin have republished a trio of seasonal Maigret short stories, collectively entitled A Maigret Christmas, and offered me a review copy of the first story. The only other Georges Simenon book I have read was very different and I never watched any of the television adaptations so I wasn't previously familiar with the Maigret crime mysteries. In some respects A Maigret Christmas was a good place to start discovering the series.

The short story is set over the course of Christmas Day in Paris and mostly takes place in Maigret's own apartment and that of his neighbour. I liked the strong sense of the time period - I believe the story was originally written in the 1950s and set in the 1930s - and the telling details of people's dress. You just know a woman isn't quite respectable if she leaves her home without stockings on! I liked the glimpses into a French Christmas Day such as bakeries still being open to buy fresh croissants. With regards to the case itself though, I found it hard to believe that so much of the research demanded by Maigret of his staff could have been carried out as swiftly as the tale's timescales required. Lots of the logic jumps and conclusions seemed just too convenient for my tastes and the small cast of characters made it pretty obvious where we would end up - although not exactly how we would get there. Overall I thought A Maigret Christmas was a quaint mystery with a nice seasonal vibe.

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Books by Georges Simenon / Short stories / Books from Belgium

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