18 January 2014

Review: THE LATE MONSIEUR GALLET, Georges Simenon

  • Format Kindle: Amazon
  • File Size: 340 KB
  • Print Length: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (December 5, 2013)
    Originally published 1931
    Published as MAIGRET STONEWALLED 1963
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
Synopsis (Bloody Murder)

During a very hot Summer, the body is found of a commercial traveler in his hotel room in Sancerre. Shot in the face and then stabbed in the heart, the gunman seems to have got clean away after inflicting the fatal stabbing with the victim’s own knife as the poor man tried to fend off his attacker.

The victim was a regular visitor known as Clement but it quickly emerges that he was actually Émile Gallet. An outwardly conventional petit bourgeois living on the outskirts of Paris, he had in fact constructed an elaborate double life, which he had been leading for the best part of 18 years. He arranged for pre-written postcards to be sent to his haughty wife (of noble birth) from the various stops on his old route, faked letters from his old employer and even kept a false ledger of sales to make his wife believe that he really was still doing his old job. But perhaps all was well with his scheme as he had also started secretly receiving mail from a ‘Mr Jacob’, apparently demanding money.

My take

This is part of the Penguin Classics, a project to reprint the novels of Simenon in order of publication. THE LATE MONSIEUR GALLET is #2 in the series and I was surprised to find that Maigret is already 45 years old. He has spent half his life in various branches of the police and is now in the Paris Flying Squad.

Monsieur Gallet it seems has been leading a double life for the best part of twenty years, living under two names, with a wife and son under the name of Gallet. However he no longer has the job that Madame Gallet thinks he has, so how does he earn his money? In addition it seems that his death is somehow related to the hotel room he has been allocated.

If Monsieur Gallet has been murdered, then who committed the deed? There are plenty of suspects but none quite fits the bill. Gallet it seems may have been a crook.

The plot is convoluted as one expects of Simenon, and Maigret spends quite an amount of time away from home on this case.  He would prefer what he considers a "real murder", where motives and details are clearer.

I found the plot a little tangled and disappointing. I don't think Simenon needed to make it quite as complex as he did, although he made it so to accommodate a range of characters like Gallet's reprehensible son and his girlfriend.

My rating: 4.3

See also plot summary at  Trussel

I've also reviewed
4.4, MAIGRET & the MAN on the BOULEVARD

The recent decision by Penguin to republish fresh translations of all of Simenon's Maigret novels, in the original order of publication, provides a real opportunity for readers to catch up on titles that have been out of print for some time. Apparently the 75 novels will be published at the rate of one a month. There is even an accompanying 24 page brochure available giving biographical details about Simenon and the characters he created.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kerrie - Simenon can certainly get convoluted can't he? I think I prefer the Maigret novels where the plot is a bit more straightforward, myself.


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