Recently more Georges Simenon Maigret novels have been available in America. I think there were only about eleven of them available in English for a long time unless of course you found a good source of used copies. More seem to be available every few months now and I am happy.
These mysteries also have an old black and white movie feel to them. Another favorite for rainy days. Maigret takes a more a psychological tack to his case solving. Ever present, asking questions, and putting pressure on his suspects by having them watched, he studies them. Being a suspect doesn’t mean he won’t share a drink or a meal with them. It’s another opportunity for Maigret to size them up. To move them closer to the breaking point.
These mysteries are claustrophobic in a way. Murder is committed by someone close to the victim, the ring of suspects. These suspects confine the story. Talking to them, Maigret learns about each one from the other as well as themselves. Giving Lucas, Janvier, Lapointe, Torrence and others follow-up assignments to confirm or disprove whatever they say. Inexorably, Maigret moves toward the truth. At times he becomes so involved with his suspects, he can’t take the fullest joy in the killer’s apprehension.
The most available video versions of Maigret currently are the Michael Gambon Maigret available from Acorn and the Bruno Cremer available from MHz. I enjoy both although the Cremer is closer I think to the claustrophobic atmosphere I feel in the books. But, Michael Gambon’s portrayal is satisfying on its own.
Maigret is a knight-errant questing for answers about life and death in the minds of murders and I gladly join him.
I stumbled upon something very interesting recently: Rowan Atkinson playing Jules Maigret in a BBC-produced series. I haven’t watched any episodes yet but I bet they are very worthwhile!