Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Vintage Mystery #12

I read this book for the Vintage Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge 2014. The challenge is to read 6 or more Vintage Mysteries. All novels must have been originally written before 1960 and be from the mystery category.

N-1. Animal in the Title: The Beast Must Die – Nicholas, Blake, 1938. My review is here.
N-2. Place in the title: The Man on the Boulevard – Georges Simenon, 1953.
N-3. Size in the title: Too Many Cousins - Douglas Browne, 1953. My review is here.
N-4 Medical mystery: The Case of the Fugitive Nurse - Erle Stanley Gardner, 1954. My review is here.
N-5. pseudonym: Death before Bedtime – Gore Vidal writing as Edgar Box, 1953. My review is here.
N-6. Set in the US:Playback - Raymond Chandler, 1958. My review is here.

I read this for N-6: Mystery with a Place in the Title

The Man on the Boulevard - Georges Simenon, 1953

This Maigret mystery is an outstanding book among the 70-odd novels that star the famous French detective. The characters are excellent. The victim is a Simenonian Plain Man who struggles to break out of his routine life, married to an uncongenial pusher and striver of a wife and father to a cold daughter who squeezes money out of him. 

In one of the most memorable interrogations in the canon, Maigret interviews the hilarious Schrameck, once a clown and acrobat, now a pickpocket and sneak-thief. This comedy stands in soothing contrast to the novel’s melancholy tone, which is similar to the non-Maigret psychological novels in which the freedom seeker finds freedom (which involves reading quietly in a place of one’s own, a wish we hard-core readers can connect with) but enjoys it for only a short time, since to live freely, in the Simenonian sense, means to live free from anxiety and demands – an impossibility. The translation by the always reliable Eileen Ellenbogen has been released as Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard and Maigret and the Man on the Bench.

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