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Authors: Georges Simenon; Translated by Ros Schwartz

The Shadow Puppet

BOOK: The Shadow Puppet
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Georges Simenon
Translated by Ros Schwartz

Published by the Penguin Group
Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London
Penguin Group
(USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group
(Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Ireland, 25
St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)
Penguin Group (Australia), 707 Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3008, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)
Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11
Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India
Penguin Group
(NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson
New Zealand Ltd)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, Block D, Rosebank
Office Park, 181 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parktown North, Gauteng 2193, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80
Strand, London

First published in French as
L'ombre chinoise
by Fayard 1932
This translation first
published 2014

Copyright 1932 by Georges Simenon
Translation copyright © Ros Schwartz, 2014
MAIGRET ® Georges Simenon Limited
All rights reserved

© Harry Gruyaert /Magnum Photos
Front cover design by Alceu Chiesorin Nunes

The moral rights of the author and
translator have been asserted

Typeset by Palimpsest Book Production Ltd,
Falkirk, Stirlingshire

ISBN: 978-0-698-18388-9



Title Page


About the Author

1. The Shadow Puppet

2. A Good Man

3. The Couple at Hôtel Pigalle

4. The Second-Floor Window

5. The Madwoman

6. A Raging Fever

7. The Three Women

8. The Home Nurse

9. The Man with the Pension

10. Identity Cards

11. The Drawing on the Wall

EXTRA: Chapter 1 from
The Saint-Fiacre Affair



‘I love reading Simenon. He makes me think
of Chekhov'

– William Faulkner

‘A truly wonderful
writer … marvellously readable – lucid, simple, absolutely in tune with
the world he creates'

– Muriel Spark

‘Few writers have ever conveyed with such
a sure touch, the bleakness of human life'

– A. N. Wilson

‘One of the greatest writers of the
twentieth century … Simenon was unequalled at making us look inside,
though the ability was masked by his brilliance at absorbing us obsessively in his


‘A novelist who entered his fictional
world as if he were part of it'

– Peter Ackroyd

‘The greatest of all, the most genuine
novelist we have had in literature'

– André Gide

‘Superb … The most addictive of
writers … A unique teller of tales'


‘The mysteries of the human personality
are revealed in all their disconcerting complexity'

– Anita Brookner

‘A writer who, more than any other crime
novelist, combined a high literary reputation with popular appeal'

– P. D. James

‘A supreme
writer … Unforgettable vividness'


‘Compelling, remorseless,

– John Gray

‘Extraordinary masterpieces of the
twentieth century'

– John Banville


Georges Simenon was born on 12 February
1903 in Liège, Belgium, and died in 1989 in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he had
lived for the latter part of his life. Between 1931 and 1972 he published
seventy-five novels and twenty-eight short stories featuring Inspector Maigret.

Simenon always resisted identifying
himself with his famous literary character, but acknowledged that they shared an
important characteristic:

My motto, to the extent that I have
one, has been noted often enough, and I've always conformed to it.
It's the one I've given to old Maigret, who resembles me in certain
points … ‘understand and judge not'.

Penguin is publishing the entire series
of Maigret novels.

1. The Shadow Puppet

It was ten p.m. The iron gates of the
public garden were locked and Place des Vosges was empty. Glistening tyre tracks on
the asphalt, the continuous play of the fountains, leafless trees and the regular
shapes of identical rooftops silhouetted against the sky.

There were few lights under the splendid
arcades encircling the square. Only three or four shops. Inspector Maigret could see
a family eating inside one of them, cluttered with beaded funeral wreaths.

He was trying to read the numbers above
the doors, but he had barely passed the wreath shop when a diminutive form stepped
out of the shadows.

‘Is it you I just

She must have been watching out for a
long time. Despite the November cold, she had not slipped on a coat over her apron.
Her nose was red, her eyes anxious.

Less than 400 metres away, on the corner
of Rue de Béarn, a uniformed police officer stood guard.

‘Didn't you inform
him?' grumbled Maigret.

‘No! Because of Madame de
Saint-Marc, who's about to give birth … Oh look! There's the
doctor's car, he was asked to come straight away.'

There were three cars drawn up alongside
the pavement, headlamps on, red rear lights. The sky, with its
drifting clouds against a moonlit backdrop, had an
ambiguous paleness. It felt as if the first snows were in the air.

The concierge turned under the archway
at the building's entrance, from which hung a twenty-five-candlepower bulb
covered in a film of dust.

‘Let me explain. This is the
courtyard – you have to cross it to get to all parts of the building, except for the
two shops. This is my lodge on the left. Take no notice, I didn't have time to
put the children to bed.'

There were two of them, a boy and a
girl, in the untidy kitchen. But the concierge didn't go inside. She pointed
to a long building, at the far end of the vast and beautifully proportioned

‘It's there. You'll

Maigret was intrigued by this curious
little woman, whose restless hands betrayed her febrility.

‘There's someone on the
phone asking for a detective chief inspector!' he had been told earlier at
Quai des Orfèvres.

The voice on the other end was muffled.
Several times he had repeated, ‘Please speak up, I can't hear

‘I can't. I'm calling
you from the tobacconist's. So—'

And a garbled message followed.

‘You must come to 61, Place des
Vosges right away … Yes … I think it's a murder, but
don't tell anyone yet!'

And now the concierge was pointing at
the tall first-floor windows. Behind the curtains, shadows could be seen coming and

‘It's up there.'


‘No! Madame de Saint-Marc
who's giving birth … Her first … She's not very
strong. You understand?'

And the courtyard was even darker than
Place des Vosges. It was illuminated by a single lamp on the wall. A staircase could
just be made out on the other side of a glazed door, and there was the occasional
lighted window.

‘What about the murder?'

‘I'm coming to that!
Couchet's workers left at six o'clock—'

‘Wait a moment. What is

‘The building at the far end. A
laboratory where they make serums. You must have heard of Doctor Rivière's

‘And that lighted

‘Wait. Today's the 30th, so
Monsieur Couchet was there. He's in the habit of staying behind on his own
after the offices have closed. I saw him through the window, sitting in his
armchair. Look—'

A window with frosted-glass panes. A
strange shadow, like that of a man slumped forward on his desk.

‘Is that him?'

‘Yes. Around eight o'clock,
when I was emptying my rubbish bin, I glanced over in that direction. He was
writing. You could clearly see the penholder or pencil in his hand.'

‘What time did the

‘Just a minute! I went upstairs to
see how Madame de Saint-Marc was doing. I glanced over again when I came back down,
and there he was, as he is now. Actually I thought he'd dozed off.'

Maigret was
beginning to lose patience.

‘Then, fifteen minutes

‘Yes! He was still in the same
position! Get to the point.'

‘That's all. I decided to
check. I knocked on the office door. There was no answer so I went in. He's
dead. There's blood everywhere.'

‘Why didn't you go to the
police? The police station is round the corner, in Rue de Béarn.'

‘And they'd all have arrived
in uniform! They'd have turned the place upside down! I told you that Madame
de Saint-Marc—'

Maigret had both hands in his pockets,
his pipe between his teeth. He looked up at the first-floor windows and had the
impression that the birth was imminent, as there was even more to-ing and fro-ing.
He heard a door opening, and footsteps on the stairs. A tall, broad shape appeared
in the courtyard and the concierge, touching the inspector's arm, murmured
reverentially, ‘Monsieur de Saint-Marc. He's a former

BOOK: The Shadow Puppet
12.1Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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