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by Georges Simenon
Penguin, December 2006
160 pages
ISBN: 0143038311

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

THE BAR ON THE SEINE is one of the 75 novels to feature the shrewd but at times kindly pipe-smoking Commissaire Jules Maigret. Maigret is an old-fashioned police officer whose dogged determination is the backbone to his results.

When Maigret visits a man in prison to inform him that his latest appeal has failed and that he is to be executed at dawn he is not expecting to be dragged into an unsolved murder that took place over five years ago. Is Lenoir (the condemned man) telling the truth about blackmailing the murderer or is it just a ruse to buy more time? Why does he believe that there are others who should be facing the executioner as well?

As Maigret investigates the case, he finds himself drawn to the sordid underside of bourgeois Parisian life, which takes place at Guinguette ŗ Deux Sous a bar on the River Seine. Who are these people that have been gathering at this place nearly every weekend for many years and which one of them is the murderer? Why did the murder take place and is this what binds the different families together?

THE BAR ON THE SEINE is a disturbing tale of secrets past and present, of tangled webs of deceit and some of the lengths that people will go to protect those secrets. Human frailties also play a part and Simeon is proficient in exploring in detail the complexities of human nature without being blasť about it.

George Simenonís Maigret series has always been, as far as I am concerned, a series that one needs to read at a leisurely pace over a long period. The fact that Penguin appear to be re-issuing the books are a boon for those readers who have never read him. My view is that one can do no wrong by making the time to read this series. This period of Paris may have long gone but the opportunity to indulge is too good an opportunity to miss. Wallow in a book that has a dark realism alongside excellent characterisation and descriptive skills that draws the reader into an intriguing novel.

Reviewed by Ayo Onatade, January 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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