Book Review – January 2018 – Sallie Eden

A Maigret Christmas And Other Stories by Georges Simenon – A new translation by David Coward – Published in hardback by Penguin, November 2017

Comprising three (long) short stories:  ‘A Maigret Christmas’, ‘Seven Small Crosses in a Notebook’ and ‘The Little  Restaurant near Place des Ternes: A Christmas Story for Grown-ups’, this is Simenon at his finest, thanks to the superb translation which makes them seem fresh, yet still of their time. 

All three are atmospheric stories set in Paris at Christmastime, only one featuring Maigret and some of the usual supporting characters, including, of course, Mme Maigret. 

They’re traditional mysteries, intriguing, without being too dark. I’d call them comfort reading for a winter’s evening, but that sounds like an insult and none is intended. So how best to describe them? 

Absorbing, yes, but more than that, thanks to the brilliant writing and top notch translation, I could almost smell the coffee and tobacco and taste the sloe gin. And, as I look towards the window, I’m surprised to see it’s not obscured by ice.

My new year’s resolution? Read more Maigret stories. He wrote over 400; I may be some time. 

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