The Late Monsieur Gallet Paperback – Jan 28 2014
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'I love reading Simenon. He makes me think of Chekhov.' — William Faulkner
About the Author
Georges Simenon (1903–1989) was born on February 12th, 1903 in Liege, Belgium. At the age of nineteen, Simenon embarked to Paris to begin a career as a writer. In 1923 he began publishing under various pseudonyms, and in 1929 began the Inspector Maigret series which helped elevate him to become a household name in continental Europe. His prolific output of more than four hundred novels and the gripping, dark realism of his prose has cemented him as an inedlible fixture of twentieth century literature. He died in 1989 in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Anthea Bell is the award-winning translator of numerous French and German works: from the Asterix comics to W. G. Sebald’s literary masterpiece Austerlitz.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
But Inspector Maigret never takes things at face value. Maigret is in search of the true man behind appearances.
This book is part of an ambitious project undertaken by Penguin to publish all the Maigret mysteries in new translations. Some books in this new series have never been available in English before. I was never able to find The Late Monsieur Gallet.
This translation must be good because all the charm of Simenon's style is present. The seemingly casual dialog reveals character, betrays nervous tension and moves the story along with poetic economy of language. The subtle narration expresses a thousand ironies. And Simenon's talent for conveying the mood of place is here too. The terse descriptions of the second-class hotel where Gallet died and the dreary development where he lived are first-rate Simenon.
I loved this book. I intend to buy every book in the series that I haven't read yet. Those new to Simenon can look forward to a steady stream of little gems from Penguin by this brilliant twentieth-century writer.
As often occurs when Maigret investigates a crime far from the capital, this one has him solving the case largely on his own, and the story lacks the presence of Maigret's Paris-based colleagues, especially Lucas, Janvier, Torrence, and LaPointe. This absence of trusted associates exaggerates Maigret's tendency to communicate little about his thought process, making the plot twists at the end of the book especially startling.
Typical of the entire Maigret oeuvre, issues of class differences abound in "The Late Monsieur Gallet". They not only signal Simenon's subtle handling of the French preoccupation with family background, but are also at the heart of the death under investigation. Evident too in this book is Simenon's exceptional talent for description. In my mind's eye, for example, I see the deceased's straight-laced wife, at first attired in mauve silk and later in mourning. Likewise, i feel that I have accompanied Maigret throughout his investigation in a sweltering provincial town.
The Maigret we meet in "The Late Monsieur Gallet" is less self-assured than the man we will come to know as the series unfolds, and occasionally this is a bit jarring. The writer Simenon too is less polished than he will become in later novels wherein plot complexities are handled more adeptly. Still, this book will please the vast universe of Maigret and Simenon aficionados for it helps lay the groundwork for books that will follow.
Monsieur Émile Gallet appears the epitome of bourgeois respectability: a traveling salesman of silver-plated flatware and christening cups through all of Normandy, with a patrician wife in his 2,000-franc-a-month home in Saint-Fargeau in Burgundy where he spent one week a month. But, as Maigret soon discovers, everything about M. Gallet was a lie: This shadowy man was even living in a hotel in Sancerre under a false name: Monsieur Clément. So why did M. Gallet falsify his life? And was it himself or his alter ego that led someone to first shoot and then stab him to death in the Hôtel de la Loire in Sancerre?
Maigret's as puzzled as any of us would be: So many of the pieces of this puzzle simply don't fit. In "The Late Monsieur Gallet," the clever chief inspector emerges as human and perplexed as the rest of us; however, in the end, Maigret discovers the truth of M. Gallet's life and death. I definitely recommend this novel. Those new to the marvelous Maigret need not fear beginning with this one.