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Jules Maigret Georges Simenon

Default Smiles I had looked up a lot of stuff about Maigret before reading the little collection we managed to pick up second hand, and it sounded like something we’d love right off the bat. Imagine a Parisian chief inspector who finds himself involved in crime where the only witness is a criminal, or where the entire village is knowingly hiding a murderer.
Happy Sharky2 I am on board for that.
Surprised Smiles So we picked up this omnibus and read the first book. And… I didn’t know how I felt about it. So I read two more stories to figure it out. I still haven’t figured out if the books just aren’t 100% my thing, or if I came in with very different expectations, or if I started with one of those books that a new reader isn’t supposed to start with because it’s not the strongest work. I liked the first three-fourths of the first. I liked almost all of the second. I liked some of the third. It’s weird.
Confused Sharky Strongest evidence points to us going in with different expectations based on what we’d read about the series. An article called him the Sherlock Holmes of France and… well, that sets up an image in your mind of the lone detective tracking the breadcrumb trail of clues, which the three books we read really didn’t match up to. They feature a lot more walks and thoughtful glasses of alcohol, and focus less on the crime and a lot more on the people involved in the crime. Which is great, but it took us a while to get into that mental gear.
Shocked Smiles Okay, so book number one was where Inspector Maigret, fancy chief inspector of Paris, has to come back to his home village to solve a crime. Book two involves a woman he arrested from his younger days coming to ask him for help to get her husband out of trouble. Book three involves a crime at another little village. Right away you see the pattern. The stories are less about the crime itself and more about looking at how Maigret deals with the situation he’s been put in, situations which bring up memories of his past that clash with present events, and let us learn more about him as a character.
Happy Sharky2 The crimes are solved by lucky breaks and determination and instinct as much as good observation, which is great and I don’t think I’ve seen that done before, and when it’s done well I had a great amount of fun. The second book in particular, where Maigret’s gang of helpers are all working around the clock to get a murderer to crack, is fantastic. But… well, two out of three of them seemed like they were just an excuse for the psychological exploration of the inspector, and it kind of shows.
Surprised Smiles Again, maybe this is just because of the collection we bought.
Default Sharky As much as I enjoyed the psychological exploration, I was a little let down, because I really keep hoping for more police-building scenes where junior policemen stressing out because they have to interrogate the suspect for a while so the chief can go down to the labs and find out that it was just as they expected, the car was cleaned out and we have no hard evidence we have to keep prodding at him.
Sassy Smiles Can you tell Sharky really enjoyed the second book?
Default Sharky The writing style lost me a couple of times in the slow moments, and that’s a fact. But all the same, they had very unique… feel to them, and I want to read more just to see what angle the author’s going to take on the next crime. Although if it’s another tiny village where everyone has secrets I’ll take a break on that, thanks.
Default Smiles I think that’s kind of the theme of these stories. Everyone has secrets, everyone has issues, Maigret keeps taking drinks breaks to deal with all of it. I think it was the second book where he takes so many drinks breaks out of frustration that his subordinates privately suspect that he rushed the arrest not so much to pressure the suspect, but more because he’s taking this kind of personally and also he’s slightly drunk. Which is ever so slightly hilarious in this serious story.

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Sassy Sharky Also slightly hilarious is the junior policeman who is skipping dinner to help on the case, and when the chief brings it up he goes on about how his wife will be disappointed and it’s his son’s birthday too, but that’s alright chief, this case is important. And then he practically runs out of the door when Maigret excuses him for the night.
He does a lot of talking to people, does Maigret. Definitely tries more of a people person than Holmes. But as public police, I suppose he has to be.
And that’s fine. Don’t make the mistake we did and come into this series thinking they’re like Holmes. There is one similarity, though. Fun fact, Maigret was ALSO killed off by his author, and got a lot of fan mail that made him bring him back. They’re both kind of literary zombies, in a way.
Surprised Smiles Sooooo we’re not exactly agreed on this series. It was fine, but I probably wouldn’t read more. I might try one of the short stories if I can get my hands on them, or preferably just nice passages, but not a whole book unless it's like the one out of three that I liked the best.
Sassy Sharky And I want to see what the author’s going to do next. So the situation’s flipped. I’m going to be following Smiles around reading bits of the books out to him.
Happy Smiles As if I mind!

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