France, review, Translated

Maigret and the Black Sheep by Georges Simenon

maigretMaigret and the Black Sheep by Georges Simenon
Translated by Helen Thomson
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983
Originally published as Maigret et les braves gens, 1962

I chose to read this book to meet a couple of my personal reading challenges for the year: it’s a book I already own, and it’s an older crime novel. It’s my first Maigret novel, and it definitely won’t be my last. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a quick police procedural, and I have 74 other novels to choose from. It also felt a lot lighter than more contemporary crime novels, which was refreshing.

Maigret investigates the murder of a former cardboard box factory owner Rene Josselin, who is found shot in his armchair at home by his wife and daughter when they return from a night at the theater. The investigation stalls for a bit as Maigret feels the deceased family is withholding information. I don’t want to say much more about the plot because it’s such a brief book, but it feels a bit like a futile warning because thetranslated title of the book as well as the description on the back give away a great deal of the story. The motive is the main surprise of the story.

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12 thoughts on “Maigret and the Black Sheep by Georges Simenon”

  1. Rebecca, Simenon is a good choice for an older mystery (and so is Rex Stout, my favorite mystery author). I read a lot of Simenon books years ago, both the Maigret series and his stand-alone books. I would like to get back to his books and I have a few to read this year or next.

    I hope you enjoy the Rex Stout story. My son is reading one now that he is enjoying. He did not like the first one he tried.

  2. I’ve only read one Maigret, although a French-reading friend has read all of the series about Maigret. So I think I need to read a few more to remind myself there are short books in amongst the doorstops.
    I like Nero Wolfe, cut my teeth as a mystery reader as a teenager, reading his and a few other series. A few years ago, I went through a Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin phase, and was just thinking I need to cleanse my reading palate by imbibing in a few more with the dynamic duo of repartee. Now, to find books at my library that haven’t been trashed or turned into ebooks.

    1. I’ve never read Maigret or Wolfe/Goodwin before (I was more of a Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie young reader), and they feel completely different than the contemporary stuff I read, which is the whole point of reading them for me. Do you have any particular favorites?

      And on the topic of libraries, do you mean trashed as in discarded or as in too-well-loved by other library users? I hope it’s not a case of the library discarding books to create more open space. (And I find I don’t pay as close attention to ebooks as I do to physical books).

  3. I read Nancy Drew, too, before I branched out. Then as a teenager, I read Christie, but only Hercule Poirot’s cases, Nero Wolfe, Sherlock Holmes, Perry Mason and a few Sayers and Tey.
    I was inspired to read the Nero Wolfe books again by Yvette at Yvette Can Draw. She loves Wolfe and Goodwin, and posted such hilarious posts about some of the books that I had to read them. And I have gotten out of bad moods by reading one of them and laughing.
    If you go to her blog, you can find an icon to link to her favorites, I believe.
    And my library, oy. They don’t carry paper books of many “older” books, even many books 10 years old and classics. They take one copy and put it in the main branch, and require one to come up there and read it in the library ONLY. I can’t do this, nor can many people who work, go to school, have children, are older or have disabilities. I’ve emailed the library about this and complained, but to no avail. So, yes, they’ve discarded the other copies, which are no longer available in branches.
    The other thing the library does is convert some books to ebook format, not my preferred reading method.
    So, I have to buy used books if I want to read some. I’ve done this with some Nero Wolfe books, and one of Denise Mina’s Garnethill trilogy. That isn’t even old, but those books are gone from circulation. I wanted a friend to read them, so I bought the first book used and gave it to her. I may have to buy the second and third books.
    Some of the remaining Nero Wolfe books in the library are older and have tiny print. With aging eyes, I can’t read them any longer. So if I want to read them, I may have to read ebooks.

    1. I understand that libraries need to weed their collections if books don’t circulate much, but it would be nice to keep some older books, especially if they are influential series. It seems like a shame for library book-buying budgets to be devoted just to new books instead of replacing some of the older ones. Maybe complaining to the library board as well would help? I used to be a library trustee before we moved from metro Detroit. In our new library there seem to be plenty of older books. I’m thankful also for the statewide interlibrary loan program: the Ann Arbor and Michigan State libraries have lots of older and more obscure mysteries.

      Thanks for the recommendation for Yvette’s blog too: I’ll have to check it out once I finish my first Archie/Nero novel (it’s been a slow reading week).

  4. Oh, on Nero Wolfe, I asked Yvette about how to access her posts about him and his faithful associate, Archie Goodwin. She said after you go to “Yvette Can Draw,” scroll to the bottom of the page where you’ll find a search box. Type in “Nero Wolfe,” and up will pop her entries.
    “The Doorbell Rang” is a classic; Wolfe tangles with the FBI and its director, J. Edgar Hoover.
    Also, on my library, case in point, which I encountered last night: I looked for classics by the locked-room expert, John Dickson Carr. Every book I looked for said only one copy and “in-library use only,” which does not help me because it’s in the main branch, not near my house.
    Inter-library loans, a good idea. Also, because I have disability issues, I was thinking of complaining to the city that traveling to the main branch makes many books inaccessible.

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