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The Strangers in the House (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – Oct 24 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics (Oct. 24 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590171942
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590171943
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.2 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #895,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an author I particularly enjoy. He provides an in-depth picture of the mental psychology of each of his characters.Please keep getting his books.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa7effb28) out of 5 stars 10 reviews
61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa692603c) out of 5 stars I have been a stranger in a strange land Dec 21 2006
By Lonya - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Exodus ii. 22.

Georges Simenon was nothing if not prolific in both his literary and public life. Born in Belgium in 1903, Simenon turned out hundreds of novels. Simenon's obsession with writing caused him to break off an affair (he was prolific in this area of his life as well) with the celebrated Josephine Baker in Paris when he could only write twelve novels in the twelve month period in which they were involved. Although perhaps best known for his Inspector Maigret detective novels, Simenon also wrote over a hundred novels that he referred to as `romans durs' (literally "hard novels"). "Strangers in the House" is one of Simenon's hard novels and to call it noir is not an understatement.

Hector Loursat, an accomplished attorney, has been a stranger in his own house ever since his wife abandoned him and their newborn child eighteen years ago. Since that time Loursat's universe has shrunk to his bedroom, his library and his dining room. He barely speaks to his now 18 year old daughter or their cook. They are for all intents and purposes, strangers. He is a hermit, alone with his books and a profligate amount of burgundy and brandy. It is only the murderous presence of other strangers in his house that may stir him out of his emotional coma. That dark-setting forms the backdrop for "Strangers in the House".

Loursat is roused from his alcohol-induced sleep by what he thinks may be a gunshot. His suspicions are confirmed when he stumbles through portions of the house he hasn't seen in years and discovers a body. He soon discovers that his daughter has fallen in with something of a gang of youths who like to live on the edge. The rest of the novel finds Loursat grappling with the implications of the murder. We see Loursat struggling out of his hermetic cocoon. The reader is left to wonder, as the story progresses, whether Loursat can break out of his cocoon long enough to connect with his daughter and protect her interests through a criminal investigation and trial.

The result is wholly satisfying. I was totally drawn to the character of Loursat. Simenon does not make him particularly attractive. His word pictures of Loursat's appearance and manner are not designed to elicit great sympathy. Nevertheless, the pain Loursat has suffered (although unstated) is palpable and as the story progressed I could not help but hope that Loursat would find the strength to `set things right' both with the criminal investigation and trial and with his life. The result is surprising but it also felt just about right.

New York Review of Books should be congratulated for bringing Simenon's classic `romans durs' back into print. The paperback quality is excellent and each novel in the series is introduced by a writer of note. In this instance the marvelous P.D. James writes a brief but powerful introduction. I recommend all of Simenon's books and Strangers in the House is no exception. L. Fleisig
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa678651c) out of 5 stars For the defence March 9 2009
By Roger Brunyate - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The New York Review of Books is reissuing the "romans durs" of Georges Simenon -- his non-Maigret novels where the emphasis is more on psychology than on detection. Of the three that I have read so far -- including the magnificent TROPIC MOON -- this is the most like his detective novels. There is a crime, a mystery, and a court case, and the book ends when the true culprit is discovered. Or almost ends -- for the main focus is not on the solution of the crime, but the effect that his involvement in the case has on the defence attorney, Hector Loursat.

Maître Loursat is not an attractive figure when we first meet him. A middle-aged bear of a man, he had been abandoned by his wife many years before. Now, drinking several bottles of Burgundy a day, he lives in two rooms of a big rambling house, accompanied only by a surly cook, a shifting procession of housemaids, and his almost-adult daughter Nicole, whom he sees only at silent mealtimes. He is quite unaware that a group of Nicole's friends have been occupying the house at night -- until he is disturbed by a gunshot and finds a dying stranger in one of the beds. The events that follow shake him out of his self-pity, and he eventually finds himself defending Nicole's lover in court. Loursat will be changed by the experience -- perhaps not much, but still significantly -- and this change is the real subject of the novel.

Simenon is superb as ever in describing the small provincial town. For instance: "Hardly a window that was not shuttered. The steps of the rare passerby in the dismal streets sounded furtive, almost embarrassed." Behind those shuttered windows, dinner parties are being held by the few privileged bourgeois families, all known to one another and often connected by marriage. Nicole's friends include some of the sons of these families, escaping boredom, and some lowlier individuals just seeking to be included. The class background, like the French legal system, may seem strange to American eyes, but it is an explosive mixture, leading to jealousy and ultimately to murder. And to the rebirth of Hector Loursat.
HASH(0xa6cf2aac) out of 5 stars Another great psychological thriller form Simenon April 13 2013
By Michael R. Stone - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Smart writing, as usual, great human insights, as usual. I do have one question thought that I'm sure will be answered if I take the time to read the intro, namely, based on the copyright, I think this book was written during the German occupation--and I wonder if that pertains in any way to the story or if it was written, divorced form that moment.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa6778c18) out of 5 stars Fantastic! July 27 2014
By Ken - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A reclusive attorney develops a new sense of life when a murder is committed under his own roof. His daughter's involvement with a "gang" of petty criminal stirs something in him that had lain dormant for years.

HASH(0xa67bfa5c) out of 5 stars One of Simenon's best May 20 2012
By Glenn Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Simenon is in perfect control of this story and of his reclusive protagonist, Hector. Hector awakens from a drunken slumber to realize that a stranger has been murdered in his house. He participates in the investigation, using his own lawyerly and deductive reasoning skills to ferret out the truth of what has occurred. In less capable hands, Hector's redemption would have been overblown and cliched. But in Simenon's hands, Hector gently returns to the living, in a subtle -- and far more believable -- manner.

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