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Maigret and the Spinster Paperback – April 21, 2003

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Maigret . . . ranks with Holmes and Poirot in the pantheon of fictional detective immortals." ---People

"Simenon is . . . in a class by himself." --The New Yorker

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Helen and Kurt Wolff Books
  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; None edition (April 21, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156028433
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156028431
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,853,188 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Blue in Washington TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 5, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Georges Simenon's Maigret books are often more about the characters than the mysteries (often murders). "Maigret and the Spinster" is no exception in its exploration of the trials and tribulations of the extended Pardon family, a group with a depressing and sordid past that leads to a double murder. One of those murdered is a young woman who has been attempting, without much success, to convince Chief Inspector Maigret of the Police Judiciare of Paris that serious trouble is brewing within her family. When the trouble comes--the two murders--Maigret is heartsick that he ignored the woman's entreaties and sets out to solve the murders to pay back a perceived debt to her.

What Maigret gradually uncovers is a family history that is as base and sordid as some of Emile Zola's more unsavory characters (Therese Raquin comes to mind). "Maigret and the Spinster" is an entertaining story, evocative of Paris neighborhoods and middle-class life of the period (more or less the 1930s).

Enjoyable and recommended.
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Format: Paperback
Maigret and the Spinster was first published in 1942 as Cécile est morte, and was translated into English by Eileen Ellenbogen. This is a similar plot to the later Maigret and the Madwoman of 1970. In both books a woman is disregarded when she reports her flat has been entered and searched, and when she is later murdered Maigret is mortified, and determined to catch the culprit. This book contains a chilling portrait of a miser, another victim. Simenon is at his best when portraying the corrupting effect of greed on people in all walks of life. Other portraits are not as successful. One villain is a procurer, and customer, of child prostitutes, depicted with mingled disgust and an odd amusement. As often, it appears, in Maigret stories, the depiction of character and milieu is masterly, and makes the first two thirds of the book highly enjoyable to read. As often in detective stories the solution is made by means of incongruous character development, and the final third of this book is somewhat contrived, and most unlikely. The solution involves the titular Cécile, a figure of fun while described by others, turning into a violent killer, an incongruous change which does though help Maigret solve a murder. A redundant section has Maigret being studied while on the case by an American policeman so as to learn his methods. They consist in this instance in eating and drinking an inordinate amount of food and alcohol. Maigret confesses he imagines what it is like to be each suspect in a case. In other words he proceeds as Simenon does in writing his books. So many Maigret stories, like so many Sherlock Holmes ones, could be so much better.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'd tried reading Maigret before, and wondered what was so great about him. Now the light has dawned. It's not just Maigret who makes the story. It's the characters, such subtle schemers, so French, and all out to bamboozle Maigret, consciously or not.

The oddly young spinster who foolishly makes Maigret her hero. The cagey concierge with the crooked neck. The lawyer with his old-man smell who can't keep his hands off young girls. And so on. Maigret wanders around amidst these characters until he somehow gets an idea of what's afoot.

So this is a winner, and I'm off to explore more Maigret.
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Format: Paperback
Maigret and the Spinster was written in 1942, while Paris was occupied by the Germans. Although not dealing with the Occupation, Simenon paints a wonderful picture of a sordid apartment building and its creepy tenants. There is a wonderful noir feel to the book that would appeal to any fan of Alan Furst or Eric Ambler.

In a Maigret novel, there is almost no gun play or car chases. It is just Chief Inspector Maigret doing what he does best, using his knowledge of human psychology to figure out a complex mystery. Picture in your mind Jules Maigret in a heavy coat and bowler hat wandering the streets of Paris puzzling out a mystery while he smokes his pipe.

Georges Simenon wrote over 200 novels and more than 500 million copies of his books have been published worldwide. He was able to do this because like Alexandre Dumas he almost limitless imagination. If you have not read Simenon before, this is a good solid start.
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