Bibliophile reviews Maigret and the Burglar's Wife by Georges Simenon

Original French title: Maigret et la grande perche
translator: J. Maclaren-Ross
Series detective: Chief-Inspector Maigret
No. in series: 66
Year of publication: 1951
Type of mystery: Missing person/possible murder
Type of investigator: Police
Setting & time: Paris, France; 1953s

Story: A woman who once embarrassed Maigret when he was a young policeman comes to him with a fantastic story: her husband, a safecracker famous for his bad luck, found a murdered women in one of his break-ins and has fled the city for fear of being suspected of the murder. However, no murder has been reported in the suburb where it happened, and Maigret is unsure as to whether to believe the story or not. After speaking with the inhabitants of the house, a middle-aged man and his mother, his policeman's sixth sense is aroused he begins to believe the story and starts an investigation.

Review: It was interesting to read this book so shortly after having watched the same story unfold in an episode of the British TV series (with Michael Gambon as Maigret). Story and TV show could easily be used to show how an original written story can both lose and gain a lot in the adaptation. But I'm not going to discuss the adaptation here, just the story as it is in the book. It is a fine story about psychological warfare between Maigret and a suspect, and has an interesting twist in the tale, which, while not entirely unexpected, is put forward in such a way as to leave it up to the reader whether she believes the solution or not. It may just be the translation, but I got the feeling this doubt was entirely intentional.

Rating: Another fine tale of psychological warfare and human nature from the French master of mystery. 4 stars.


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