Maigret Hesitates by Georges Simenon, translated by Lyn Moir, Harcourt Brace Harvest Book 1970 mass market paperback, mystery. Number 68 in the series.
The Blurb: When a series of letters, written on expensive stationery, arrive at Maigret’s desk stating that a murder will take place but that the writer is unsure as to who will die, who will do the killing, and when the killing will occur, Maigret’s interest is piqued and he soon tracks the stationery down to the house of Emile Parendon, an eminent lawyer. But, once there, tracking down clues to a crime not yet committed is not so easy and when a murder does take place the choice of victim surprises even Maigret.
My Take: This later entry in the Maigret series is wholly psychological, with little in the way of crime excepting the murder on page 109. The rest is Maigret talking to, interviewing or thinking about the various members of the household of the large luxurious apartment suite of a very wealthy family in Paris.
Though finely crafted, as are all of Simenon’s books, this one is slow moving throughout.
I hadn’t read a Maigret novel in two or three years, and having a large number of them on the mystery shelf unread, took this one at random and moved it to my small TBR bookcase, where it now rose to the top.
I admit I grew impatient a couple of times, wanting some action, but had to remind myself that it was a Maigret novel, not a thriller. In the end, I enjoyed it and I’m glad I read it.
Like you, I have to gear down my expectations of action in a Maigret mystery. Excellent writing and characterizations, but a slow pace.
I think some of the earlier ones had more atmosphere that added a little to the books for me, but you’re right, this is more talk than action. Of course, I’ve read all the Maigrets (sadly), though I do have most of them on the shelf if I ever feel like reading them again.
The Maigrets can be very static and I think what would help is less focus on the crime and more on France, the other police, his wife. The last one I read was just about him interviewing suspects and thinking too. That gets on my nerves in a lot of the TV series on now too.
I have a good number of Maigret mysteries (unread) on my shelves too. I read a lot of them when I was younger and I am curious as to how I would like them now. I don’t know why I put them off when I they are mostly very short books. I am glad you reminded me.