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THE MADMAN OF BERGERAC
by Georges Simenon
Penguin, June 2007
176 pages
$12.00
ISBN: 0143111965


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

When Inspector Maigret agrees to visit an old friend and former colleague, Inspector Leduc, who has retired to the country, he hopes to get some pleasant vacation time. But right away it is not to be so. On the train to the small town, he mistakenly gives up his sleeping compartment and has to share sleeping quarters with another person. Already in the upper bunk, the other person makes constant noises and is too restless for Maigret to get a bit of sleep.

When the morning finally comes, Maigret watches as the man runs from the room and jumps out of the moving train just minutes before it is to roll into the station. Being a good cop, Maigret can't permit such suspicious actions to go unnoticed and he follows the man, jumping out of the train. When he hits the ground and stops rolling, the other man shoots Maigret!

When he awakens, Maigret is in the hands of the police who can't quite understand who he is. It seems that they think he is one who has been murdering some local people and who they are calling The Madman Of Bergerac.

When he is finally well enough to let his real identity be known, the locals are a bit annoyed that he isn't the murderer. They were all thrilled to think that the killer was a stranger to them and an outsider. But when Maigret informs the locals as to whom he is, he is able to get permission to have his wife visit him in the hospital and he, of course, starts to investigate the identity of the man who shot him.

Originally written in the 1930s, this story permits the modern reader to see just how different police work was during that time period. There was none of the incredible scientific crime scene sciences or forensic work that exists today. In fact, the Maigret series really leans upon the art of the interrogation and the talent that the policeman working the case has when it comes to deduction and putting the story of the crime together.

Maigret's main problem with his investigation lies not with the guilty but with the well-established bigwigs in town and their own upper class people they so smugly support and refuse to even think of as possibly guilty of any crime.

This rather interesting short story moves along well and we can see how an investigation was done in the beginning of the last century. It is wonderfully witty and interesting, and we can tell why Maigret is still grabbing the interest of readers so many years after the book was originally written.

Reviewed by A. L. Katz, July 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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