Maigret in Court
Penguin, paperback, 146 pages, €11.19
Belgian-born Georges Simenon, who died in 1989, was one of the most prolific authors of the last century. He wrote more than 200 books, including 75 novels featuring French police Inspector Jules Maigret, which spawned myriad television series all around the world. Five years ago Penguin Books commissioned new translations of all the books, and Maigret in Court is number 55 in the series.
In this lean and spare tale Maigret, now 53 and facing retirement in two years, is being questioned in court by a judge about an investigation he had undertaken into the brutal murder of a woman and a small child. But Maigret is not at all sure that the accused, a mild-mannered picture-framer called Gaston Meurant, actually killed his aunt and the little girl and continues to search for the truth. Simenon, as always, manages quite brilliantly to compress into a few pages a whole world of human distress and misery.