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  • Maigret's World: A Reader's Companion to Simenon's Famous by Murielle Wenger and Stephen Trussel
  • Hazel Paton
Maigret's World: A Reader's Companion to Simenon's Famous Detective. By Murielle Wenger and Stephen Trussel. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2017. xii + 232 pp.

For the last twenty years, Stephen Trussel and associates have provided a website for followers of Commissaire Jules Maigret (http://www.trussel.com/maig/cheklist.htm [accessed 24 April 2018]). Each book and short story in Georges Simenon's series is meticulously cross-referenced using the three-character identifying code, based on the original French edition, that was introduced by Trudee Young in her Georges Simenon: A Checklist of his 'Maigret' and Other Mystery Novels and Short Stories in French and English Translations (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1976). The present monograph has gathered [End Page 462] all the trivia from the website and made it resonate for students and general readers alike. Everything from the chief inspector's daily routine, his wife and family members, his clothing and pastimes, likes and dislikes, to places he has lived, worked, holidayed in, or investigated, is linked to the text in which it is first mentioned and, in some cases, to all subsequent mentions. Comparisons are made between how Maigret is presented in the three stages of Simenon's career, under publishers Fayard (1929-34), Gallimard (1939-44), and Presses de la cité (1947-72). Despite Simenon's coyness about his creation's appearance, other than his silhouette, from early novels onwards a composite likeness gradually appears, one feature at a time. Murielle Wenger's contributions allow Mme Maigret to be seen as much more than the patient wife who keeps her husband's dinner warm no matter how late he returns home. We see her gentle humour, her skills as sister, message-taker, needle-worker, cook, nurse, co-worker, and spouse, as well as the Penelope role that most readers see. It may surprise some to know that her name is Louise, even though in one early novel she appears as Henriette (the shared name of Simenon's mother and of his then mistress). Maigret's foibles are all documented: his fascination with stoves, preferably glowing hotly; his long list of aperitifs, pre- and after-dinner drinks, and beverages for every other occasion; his pipes and hats; his favourite meals; his humour; his choice of movies; and his dreams. Investigations within and without Paris are listed with the number of times that particular venue is used, so that we know that some street names are used once while, for instance, the avenue des Champs-Élysées is mentioned in forty-nine novels, and that Montmartre is the site of the most action. Along the lines of Randall Toye and Katherine Koller's The Agatha Christie Who's Who (London: Muller 1980), or, more pertinently, Young's Georges Simenon, this volume lists those with whom Maigret works—his fellow police officers, the judges, district inspectors, medical officers, and doctors—and in-depth analyses of his relationships with them. A potential challenge to readers is the naming of one of the sections 'Collaborators' (Chapter 7): the ambivalence of its meaning is problematic here because of the ongoing debate surrounding the extent, nature, and existence of Simenon's collaboration with the Germans during the Occupation. The book is conversational and easily read, and, apart from a little unevenness of editing, is a worthwhile addition to the library. This well-researched collection allows the reader to see Maigret as a tangible, well-rounded, and believable character.

Hazel Paton
University of Newcastle, Australia
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Additional Information

ISSN
1468-2931
Print ISSN
0016-1128
Pages
pp. 462-463
Launched on MUSE
2018-08-15
Open Access
No
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