Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Maigret on the Riviera

My dear Inspector Maigret has taken the train from Paris to the Antibes to investigate the stabbing death of one William Brown. Brown lived in a villa with two women - Gina and her maman - an unlikely threesome as Maigret soon discovers. Brown had the money and would go off on a drinking binge once a month. On his last escapade, he came home drunk with stab wounds in his back, He died. The women didn't know what to do, so they waited two days, buried the man in his own garden and tried to run away.

So Maigret has been called in to investigate discreetly because Brown, an Australian, had worked for French intelligence.

What I love is that in just a few words, Simenon can evoke such a sense of place.

On the villa's garden:

The air was heavy with the sweet smell of mimosa. Small orange trees still bore a few oranges. There were some queer-shaped flowers that Maigret had never seen before.

On Cannes, the city by the sea:

Everything here seemed white: hotels, shops, trousers and dresses, sails on the sea. It might have been a theatre set, a charming fairyland in blue and white.

Finally, on an out-of-the-way bar:

The empty bar below street level, the half-lit kitchen lower still; upstairs, a bedroom, probably in disorder; and the little window on the back yard, from which the sun had almost disappeared...

It was a strange world, and in the middle of it sat Maigret, finishing up the remains of a perfect salad.

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