The first week of this month - which included Election Day - required a good, calm crime story, a book that before opening it a reader knows the mystery will be solved and order restored.
It called for a visit with methodical, introspective Chief Superintendent Jules Maigret, author Georges Simenon’s fictional Paris police detective.
The mystery in his 1955 novel, Maigret and the Headless Corpse, as the title explains, begins with the discovery of a dismembered body in a canal. All the parts of the murdered man are recovered, except the head. Based on the medical examiner’s findings and the section of Paris in which the body was discovered, Maigret quickly comes up with a possible identity of the man and a possible suspect.
The suspect is the man’s wife. As Maigret learns about her, a second suspect and then a third come into focus. The wife is a puzzle to him. She is a woman who seems numb to the world and Maigret spends a considerable amount of time figuring out what makes her tick. His process is fascinating.
For a man who wrote at breakneck speed, Simenon’s novel has an almost leisurely pace.
Maigret and the Headless Corpse is considered one of Simenon's best, and I agree, although I have only read a fraction of his 390 books. Included in that output are his 75 Maigret novels.
(For more posts on books, see Todd Mason’s blog.)
(And, if you haven’t already, please see my book, Lyme Depot. Thanks.)