by Walker Martin

   In the comments following Steve Lewis’s review of Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret novel, The Bar on the Seine, he asked about my favorite non-Maigret novels. I see from my notes that I spent most of 2015 reading Simenon’s psychological crime novels. I read most of the hundred or so novels and even thought of writing an article for Mystery*File about my experience. But I couldn’t figure out how to discuss 75 or so novels in an article without making it into a long book.

   But now that the question has come up again, here’s a short answer. For anyone interested in Simenon’s non-series crime novels, I recommend that you buy an omnibus of four novels titled A Simenon Omnibus (Hamish Hamilton, UK, 1965). Here are my notes on all four:

MR. HIRE’S ENGAGEMENT. This was one of the first of his serious non-Maigret novels. Told from the viewpoint of a very strange man, a peeping Tom. Made into two movies: Panique (1947, France) and Mr Hire (1989, France).

SUNDAY. Told from the viewpoint of a guy plotting to poison his wife. Looks autobiographical to me especially in regard to his relationship with the girlfriends. Simenon said more than once that he had thousands of sexual encounters.

THE LITTLE MAN FROM ARCHANGEL. Excellent tale of a second hand book store owner and stamp collector who makes the mistake of marrying a slut 16 years younger. He’s 40 and she is 24. Needless to say, this does not have a happy ending. The book and stamp details are fascinating.

THE PREMIER. Also known as The President. Not only a study of politics and the political life but also a look at old age and the impact it has not only on the famous but also every man. I was so impressed by this novel that I reread most of it immediately. Made into a 1961 movie starring Jean Gabin (Le President).

   I consider all these novels excellent and there are many more titles that impressed me, too many to list here.