Authors: Georges Simenon; Translated by Ros Schwartz
Published by the Penguin Group
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First published in French as
by Fayard 1932
This translation first
Copyright 1932 by Georges Simenon
Translation copyright Â© Ros Schwartz, 2014
GEORGES SIMENON Â®
MAIGRET Â® Georges Simenon Limited
All rights reserved
Â© 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,
âI love reading Simenon. He makes me think
â William Faulkner
âA truly wonderful
writerÂ â¦Â marvellously readable â lucid, simple, absolutely in tune with
the world he creates'
â Muriel Spark
âFew writers have ever conveyed with such
a sure touch, the bleakness of human life'
â A. N. Wilson
âOne of the greatest writers of the
twentieth centuryÂ â¦Â Simenon was unequalled at making us look inside,
though the ability was masked by his brilliance at absorbing us obsessively in his
âA novelist who entered his fictional
world as if he were part of it'
â Peter Ackroyd
âThe greatest of all, the most genuine
novelist we have had in literature'
â AndrÃ© Gide
âSuperbÂ â¦Â The most addictive of
writersÂ â¦Â A unique teller of tales'
âThe mysteries of the human personality
are revealed in all their disconcerting complexity'
â Anita Brookner
âA writer who, more than any other crime
novelist, combined a high literary reputation with popular appeal'
â P. D. James
writerÂ â¦Â Unforgettable vividness'
â John Gray
âExtraordinary masterpieces of the
â John Banville
Georges Simenon was born on 12 February
1903 in LiÃ¨ge, 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
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
pointsÂ â¦Â âunderstand and judge not'.
Penguin is publishing the entire series
of Maigret novels.
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.
âIs 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 BÃ©arn, a uniformed police officer stood guard.
âDidn't you inform
him?' grumbled Maigret.
âNo! Because of Madame de
Saint-Marc, who's about to give birthÂ â¦Â 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.
âLet me explain. This is the
courtyard â 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
âIt's there. You'll
Maigret was intrigued by this curious
little woman, whose restless hands betrayed her febrility.
âThere's someone on the
phone asking for a detective chief inspector!' he had been told earlier at
Quai des OrfÃ¨vres.
The voice on the other end was muffled.
Several times he had repeated, âPlease speak up, I can't hear
âI can't. I'm calling
you from the tobacconist's. Soâ'
And a garbled message followed.
âYou must come to 61, Place des
Vosges right awayÂ â¦Â YesÂ â¦Â 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
âIt's up there.'
âNo! Madame de Saint-Marc
who's giving birthÂ â¦Â Her firstÂ â¦Â 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
âWhat about the murder?'
âI'm coming to that!
Couchet's workers left at six o'clockâ'
âWait a moment. What is
âThe building at the far end. A
laboratory where they make serums. You must have heard of Doctor RiviÃ¨re's
âAnd that lighted
âWait. 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
A window with frosted-glass panes. A
strange shadow, like that of a man slumped forward on his desk.
âIs that him?'
âYes. 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.'
âWhat time did the
âJust 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.'
beginning to lose patience.
âThen, fifteen minutes
âYes! He was still in the same
position! Get to the point.'
âThat'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.'
âWhy didn't you go to the
police? The police station is round the corner, in Rue de BÃ©arn.'
âAnd they'd all have arrived
in uniform! They'd have turned the place upside down! I told you that Madame
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, âMonsieur de Saint-Marc. He's a former