It’s Thanksgiving week!
I finished the Maigret stories by Georges Simenon, started a collection by Patricia Highsmith, and I’ll get back to the Andrea Camilleri later.
“The Man On the Streets” by Georges Simenon, from Death Threats and Other Stories – Maigret trails a man suspected of committing murder, though there is no hard evidence. Day and night the two men, the suspect aware he’s being tailed, move through the Paris streets, waiting, but for what? An unusual story.
“Candle Auction” by by Georges Simenon, from Death Threats and Other Stories – A cash auction for a small farm holding is to take place, several bidders have large amounts of cash with which to bid, and one is murdered. Maigret must determine which of the persons at the small inn is the killer.
”Death Threats” by Georges Simenon, from Death Threats and Other Stories – In the final story in this collection, the question is from whom, and why?
- This was a very good collection and it was nice to revisit the more relaxed and analytical world of Chief Inspector Maigret.
“Chorus Girl’s Absolutely Final Performance” by Patricia Highsmith, from The Animal-Lover’s Book of Beastly Murder – sad story of an elephant in a zoo, misunderstood, with a mean handler.
“Djemal’s Revenge” by Patricia Highsmith, from The Animal-Lover’s Book of Beastly Murder – an owner of a camel takes care of himself first, the animal second. When he fails to win a race, the man, who is at fault, blames the animal, who bites him. The camel is sold, but the camel has his revenge.
“There I Was, Stuck With Bubsy” by Patricia Highsmith, from The Animal-Lover’s Book of Beastly Murder – old Baron had lived with Eddie since he was a pup, but when Eddie died and his new owner neglected him, he wanted nothing more than to go to Marian, whom he loved.
“Ming’s Biggest Prey” by Patricia Highsmith, from The Animal-Lover’s Book of Beastly Murder – when Ming witnesses a theft, he acts.
“In the Dead of Truffle Season” by Patricia Highsmith, from The Animal-Lover’s Book of Beastly Murder – Samson the truffle-snuffling pig was very good, but, perhaps, he liked truffles a bit too much.
“The Bravest Rat in Venice” by Patricia Highsmith, from The Animal-Lover’s Book of Beastly Murder – unpleasant story of a young rat wounded by cruel boys, who later returns for revenge. Nightmarish.
“Engine Horse” by Patricia Highsmith, from The Animal-Lover’s Book of Beastly Murder – a man wants money from his grandmother. When she’s reluctant, he plans an “accident” so she’ll have to sell her beloved farm. Things go badly awry.
- note: before starting this collection I knew Patricia Highsmith wrote dark crime novels and stories, but this book was highly praised, so I decided to try it. After reading “Engine Horse” I quit the book. Too dark, cruel and gory. I probably won’t read anything else by this author.
I’m a big Simenon fan but have read mostly his stand alone novels. Also a big Highsmith fan but haven’t read these stories. I do have her selected short stories which contains these. I do like stories that are dark.
I like Simenon a lot too, but have only read perhaps five or six of the novels (not in order). The stories are a treat. When it comes to Highsmith, you like – or at least can tolerate – darker then I prefer, Steve. The stories I read were well-written, but not to my liking.
I told you they were dark! I did like some of them more than others – the pig, for instance. I skipped the rat story. I’ve since read another collection of hers, The stories were mostly longer, dark but not quite as dark as the animal collection (in the aggregate; some were). I will probably get to the last two collections at some point.
I’ve read all the Maigret novels (70-whatever) as well as a dozen or two of his stand alones, plus a few short story collections. I have most of the other stand alones (those that have been translated, in any case) on the shelf, some in hardback and others in Penguins. I will definitely read this one,
There’s “dark” and then there’s “crush the head of a kitten under your boot heel”. That made me decide to see the horse get revenge and then stop reading. I liked the cat, Ming, the best.
I have 20 plus Maigret novels (not the latest Penguin editions) and have read just a handful. I have to be in the right mood.
Highsmith can be dark, especially when she is dealing with issues of moral ambiguity (which seems to be the theme of many of her novels). The short stories in this book seem to have been written in a more playful mood, but just as dark.
As for Simenon, I’ve read most of the Maigrets and about twenty of his other novels. They are short and finely crafted but, from what I have read about him, he was a terrible person and that part of him comes out in many of his psychological novels.
Even though at times it takes a strong stomach, both are essential reading.
(Just my early morning opinion, Rick.)
Re: Simenon, I try to evaluate the work, not the artist, Jerry. Highsmith’s version of dark is to Grimm and cruel for me.
I’m reading some more cheery writers in the run-up to Thanksgiving: Jack McDevitt’s A VOICE IN THE NIGHT and Hunter S. Thompson’s classic FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS. I’ve read a lot of Simenon and I agree with Jerry House, there’s something creepy that comes out in his psychological novels. Highsmith is creepy in just about every story and novel of her’s that I’ve read.
Creepy is one thing, George, but cruel and gory are something else.
I finished reading a Maigret novel yesterday (MAIGRET IN RETIREMENT) and I look forward to reading some Maigret short stories in December. Based on your descriptions above, I will pass on the Highsmith short stories. The only book I have read by Highsmith is STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, which I liked but was creepy enough. I plan to read THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY.
Tracy, happy day-before-Thanksgiving! The Highsmith was too dark for me. I struggled through Ripley thirty years ago, never thought it was as good as everyone else thought, so it must be me. Camilleri is terrific.