Maigret and the Ghost (Maigret 62) by Georges Simenon

The art of crime…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Having returned home late after grinding a confession out of a young lad, Maigret is wakened early to the news that a fellow police officer, Inspector Lognon, has been shot in Avenue Junot. He’s still hanging on to life, just, but hasn’t been able to talk yet, so Maigret has very little to go on, especially since the men at Lognon’s local station don’t know what he was working on. House-to-house inquiries soon reveal that recently Lognon has been spending his nights with a beautiful young woman in Avenue Junot. Somehow, though, Maigret can’t see him as a Lothario, and suspects there must have been another reason for these nocturnal adventures. The easy way to find out would be to ask the young woman – but she has disappeared…

I’ve only read a few Maigrets so far and have enjoyed them all to varying degrees. This one has leapt into the lead as my favourite so far, though I’m finding it hard to put my finger on exactly why it stood out above the others. I think I simply liked the plot and the motivation more than usual, since Simenon’s storytelling, settings and characterisation tend to be consistently good in my limited experience.

Maigret’s hunch soon proves to be correct that Lognon was investigating someone who lived on Avenue Junot. Lognon was known as a conscientious and good detective, but always unlucky. This meant he always missed out on the promotions he felt he deserved, and his unappealing wife was very ready to show her disappointment in him. Maigret realises that Lognon was working secretly on a case, hoping to break it all by himself and finally get recognition and the rewards of success. Instead, now he is lying in a hospital bed and his colleagues have no idea what crime he felt he had discovered. Maigret and his team will have to start from scratch, interviewing all the residents of the Avenue looking for suspicious or guilty behaviour. Soon Maigret will find himself deep in the sometimes rather murky world of art and art collectors.

Georges Simenon

It’s very short even for a Maigret, but packs a lot in. It’s a police procedural rather than a whodunit, in the sense that there’s no pool of suspects. Maigret soon hones in on Lognon’s target, but the question is: what crime did Lognon think had been committed, and why was he shot? The clues are given gradually and I, for once, had a pretty good idea of where the story was going, but that didn’t prevent my enjoyment of watching Maigret’s steady and relentless pursuit of the truth.

We also see quite a bit of Maigret’s wife in this one, and while she is treated rather as if she as intelligent pet rather than an equal, it’s nice to see how much Maigret loves her. And I must admit, the amount of alcohol that Maigret slurps down during every investigation always entertains me – even during interviews with suspects in the police station the booze flows freely. Makes me kinda wish I was French… 😉

Great stuff – a quick read, short enough to be devoured in one session if so inclined, and both interesting and entertaining. Highly recommended!

Book 6 of 20

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30 thoughts on “Maigret and the Ghost (Maigret 62) by Georges Simenon

  1. I’ve always liked Maigret as a character, FictionFan. And Simenon’s writing style appeals to me. I can see what you mean about this plot, too; it invites the reader to wonder what happened, and what case Lognon was looking into when he was shot. Plots like that can draw the reader in, so I’m not surprised this one’s in the lead for you as far as these books go.

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    • I’ve enjoyed all the few I’ve read so far, especially the ones set in Paris since I think they give a real sense of the atmosphere (and the alcohol! 😉 ). But in these long-running series some are bound to stand out more than others, and the plot of this one is very good… 🙂

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  2. I’ve never read any Maigret, but the books are on my TBR. Quite tempted to start with A Maigret Christmas this December and go from there, since I love Christmassy crime stories. You do make this one seem appealing though…

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    • I haven’t read the Christmas one, but so far I’ve found all the ones I’ve read enjoyable, ranging from good to excellent. There’s so many of them we’re spoiled for choice!

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  3. I haven’t read any of these, but I’m never opposed to a good police procedural. 🙂 Sometimes I’m amazed by the quantity of alcohol people can consume, fictionally or otherwise. As much as I enjoy my beer (and margaritas), I’d never be able to keep up!

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    • Haha, any time I had a drink at lunchtime I could feel it all afternoon at work, making me desperately want to snooze! If I ever drank as much as Maigret does in a normal day, I’d end up in a coma… 😉

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  4. I never realised there were anything like as many Maigret novels. I’ve never read them, but it sounds as though this was just what you needed. It shows crime fiction doesn’t need to go on for 500 pages to be worthwhile.

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    • I know, there’s millions of them! Well, nearly millions… Happily, the idea of reading loads of short books seems to have worked and my reading is back in more or less normal working order – thank goodness, I was beginning to worry! I think it’s a very rare crime book than can go above three hundred or so pages without beginning to feel bloated. All the vintage crime I’ve been reading has given me a new appreciation for the joys of books that can be read in a couple of nights…

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    • I’ve found that reading all these very short books over the summer has been just what was needed to kickstart my reading again – I’m getting more or less back to normal in terms of reading now. Hope you do too soon! It would be nice to get back to normal in real life too… 😦

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  5. I read Maigret #70 for Paris in July. This time around it was the food that hooked me in, although I did enjoy watching him nut out the whys and wherefores of the crime to hand. Like you I felt it was my favourite Maigret to date.

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    • I think sometimes it’s as much the mood of the reader as the quality of the book – a quick trip to Paris was just what I needed at that moment! I’ve enjoyed some of his books more than others, but there have been none so far that I’ve felt weren’t a good investment of my time… 😀

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  6. This one and A Maigret Christmas sound very suitable winter fare and being short can only be a bonus. Great to hear that you’re more or less back to normal with your reading habits. Excellent news! 😄

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    • It’s so good to have got back into my old reading patterns – I was beginning to worry about my sanity! 😀 Maigrets are always great for slipping in between two heavy reads, since they’re always short and very readable…

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  7. Perhaps an excess of booze really does let the creativity flow, helping the solve crimes they otherwise wouldn’t be able to? Is it just me, or does it seems like people used to drink alot more, regularly, than they do now. Like, it just seems in older books, people drank regularly, as an everyday occurrence, at certain points in the day, even at work?

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