Maigret in Vichy
I’m making it a rule now always to have something French on my ereader. Earlier in the year it was Simenon’s Maigret’s Little Joke, which I blogged about in June, and I have just finished Maigret in Vichy. I loved them both. Simonen wrote over eighty Maigret stories – that is quite some going for a serial detective and I think it must be pretty much a record. Though come to think of it, John Creasey wrote some 560 crime novels (as well as founding the Crime Writers Association). I don’t know how many featured the same detective, but I expect he clocked up a fair few featuring Gideon of the Yard or Inspector West, English equivalents of Maigret. I remember finding them still readable some years ago, but he was nowhere near as good a writer as Simenon. I particularly admire the way that Simenon managed to keep the series fresh. Maigret’s Little Joke and Maigret in Vichy both see Maigret helping to solve a crime which he is not officially investigating, one in Paris and one in Vichy where he has gone with Madame Maigret for the sake of his health. The atmosphere and the routines of the Spa town are wonderfully evoked: the ritual of taking the waters, the little band stand in the park, the avenues of trees. I always enjoy the novels that feature Madame Maigret – for me one of the most interesting marriages in fiction – and as they stroll around, seeing the same people again and again, they make up stories about them. Then one of these people, ‘the woman in lilac,’ is murdered, and it turns out that the Inspector in charge of the case is Lecoeur, who used to work under Maigret in Paris, and is only too glad of the opportunity to consult him . . . Great stuff, and I think I enjoy them even more in French than I do in English. Next up is Maigret and the Ghost.