Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Mount TBR #22

I read this book for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge hosted over at My Reader’s Block from January 1 – December 31, 2017. The challenge is to read books that you already own.

French title: L'Affaire Saint-Fiacre
First published: 1931
Translation: Robert Baldick, 1967

Maigret Goes Home – Georges Simenon

In Quai des Orfèvres our favorite Chief Inspector accidentally comes across an anonymous note, "A crime will be committed at the church of Saint-Fiacre during the first Mass of the Day of the Dead.” The message was received by the police of Moulins, who shrugged – no doubt in a Gallic way – and passed it on to the Police Judiciaire de Paris.

Since Maiget spent his childhood at Saint-Fiacre, in the Allier, his curiosity spurs him to visit the chateau, where his father had served as the loyal steward. Maigret attends the Mass in which the note forecasts the crime. Sure enough, the Countess of Saint-Fiacre dies of apparent heart failure.

The local doctor finds that the death of the countess was brought on by violent emotion. Maigret finds in the Countess' missal a clipping from the Journal de Moulins announcing the death of Maurice de Saint-Fiacre, her son and heir. The latter had just arrived from Paris to the village, where he intended to sponge money off his mother to pay his debts. If the check bounces, it’s the clink.

The inquiry, conducted at the castle, at the village and at Moulins, takes place in a somber heart-rending atmosphere from the get-go. Maigret has returned to the village of his childhood, with a sense of nostalgia. But it soon dawns on him that things have changed for the worse in the past thirty -five years.

The estate is no more than a shadow of what it was at the time when the Maigret's father was serving it. The countess has sold off three of the four farms. Since the death of the Comte de Saint-Fiacre. She has had to cover the profligate investments and expenses of her son Maurice. The countess has allowed herself to be exploited by many "secretaries" who have been so many successive lovers. The last of these, Jean Métayer, feeling suspected and vulnerable, appeals to a provincial lawyer whose manner and way of speaking get up Maigret’s nose.

Upsetting somebody to death with a fake clipping is not a crime for the courts. But all agree that is was a disgusting moral offense. Maigret talks to people to get a bead on the milieu, as usual, but does not arrive at any conclusion. Maurice de Saint-Fiacre, however, the day after the death, gathers all the suspects in a room. The ending, like many of the Depression Era Maigret stories, is muted and grim.


  1. Mmm...muted and grim. I was wondering what this author was like & nearly picked up a couple of his books 2nd hand but wasn't sure if I'd like them. Have you read any of his other books??

  2. The early Maigret mysteries reflect the sadness and anxiety of the world in the grip of the 1929-1939 economic slump. The Maigret stories from after WWII are not so grim, but they are never ever cozy. I've read probably 30 novels by Simenon. See here for a bunch of links to existential thrillers from 1950s and 1960s: