Saturday, 16 March 2019

The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin

Please ignore, this is repeated from my last post to enable me to post it on the Calandar of Crime Link site.

The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin by Georges Simenon qualifies for Bev's Calendar of Crime challenge under the December category of 'A book title starting with the letter D' (the 'The' doesn't count). I'm also using it as my first book for The European Reading Challenge 2019 as it is set in Belgium.

Rene Delfosse and Jean Chabot are two young lads out on the town in Liége, in Belgium. The bar they're in is known as a bit of a den of iniquity and it makes the boys feel grown-up being there. They're keeping company with a dancer, Adéle, who suddenly moves away to entertain a man who appears to be from Greece. Also present, drinking in the bar, is a heavily built Frenchman that no one has seen before. The two boys are up to no good. They have a plan to hide in the cellars after closing time, creep back up to the bar, and rob the till. Putting their plan into action it all goes smoothly, until they realise there's a dead body behind the bar. It's the Greek looking gentleman from earlier in the evening. Terrified, the boys make a run for it thinking they can just disappear and no one will be any the wiser, but they've reckoned without the heavily built Frenchman...

Not my favourite Maigret so far (Maigret in Holland, The Misty Harbour, The Judge's House, Maigret and the Flemish Shop) but enjoyable nevertheless. Nice sense of the city of Liége during the wars, it was Simenon's home city and his love for it shows. The two feckless lads, one from a rich family, the other a poorish one, are depicted as rather amoral. Simenon picked one of them to concentrate on and the boy's increasing sense of desperation as he tries to hide his crimes from his parents and steer clear of the police is very well portrayed. I gave it a 3 star rating on Goodreads, rounded down from 3.5 as they don't do halves on there. For me it was not one of his best as it lacked the atmosphere of some of the novels I mentioned previously. I must admit I do enjoy these occasional Maigret reads and what a shame ITV have seen fit to cancel their excellent series with Rowan Atkinson, I felt it had a lot of potential.



Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

I never got to watch any of the earlier series of Maigret with Rowan Atkinson, I can only ever recall the very original series with Michael Gambon taking the lead role.

I can also not recall this particular Maigret case, although I cut my reading teeth on this kind of library book, borrowing them after my dad had finished reading them and before the return due date. This was back in the day when you only had access to the separate childrens library until you were of a certain age, although my dad did relent and allow me access to some of his adult library books when he realized and had it confirmed by the junior school headmaster, that my reading age and understanding of the written word far outstripped my actual years in age.

It took some research with my friends at Fantastic Fiction though, to realise just how many Maigret books there were altogether (more than 70!), so it is hardly a surprise that I missed out on reading one or two of them. Simenon also wrote almost the same number of stand alone novels, so I definitely have some catching up to do!

When you see the cover art for the Maigret series all displayed together, it doesn't actually look too bad, as I wasn't too sure about the cover of 'The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin', when seen in isolation...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane :)


Arlo said...

Amazing post with lots of informative and useful and amazing content. Well written and done!! Thanks for sharing keep posting.

Cath said...

Yvonne: I didn't watch the Michael Gambon Maigret series, my first memory of them is from the 1960s when an actor called Rupert Davies played him. I was such a fan even though I wasn't very old, 10 or so. As I said, I skipped Michael Gambon but decided to watch the recent Rowan Atkinson ones. I wasn't sure at first but he grew on me and I ended up loving them... of course as soon as that happened ITV cancelled. Story of my life.

A sad thing isn't it when good readers have to fight for the right to read what they want to read? The same thing happened to me and to my own daughters but at least my husband and I were able to allow our daughters a lot more leeway at home. Back then of course there weren't the YA books for younger teens who read well that there are now.

Yes, there are a lot of Maigret books, he churned them out at a great rate of knots. Some better than others in my opinion. I read quite a few in my 20s but none of them seem familiar now.

I honestly do not like the cover of this book at all but it is what it is I suppose and the rest of them are not too bad.

Hope you're enjoying your weekend.

Arlo: Thank you.

TracyK said...

I had already seen your mention of this book (for Belgium) and noted it. Maybe for next year, because I already have several books by Simenon and I should read one or two of those first.

I went back to you previous post and was interested in your comments on considering Agatha Christie's novels simplistic at one time. I had the same experience. I read a lot of them when I was younger, but then for a long while I bought the opinion that the characters were cardboard, etc. and did not read her books. Then when I decided to try them again, I loved them. That is why I try to get past some of my prejudices about various genres or authors and at least give them a try.

Cath said...

Tracy: Simenon is very good for France for the European challenge, Maigret books set in Belgium are unusual so I nabbed it for the challenge. There was one set in Holland too.

Yes, I too happily bought the opinion that her characters were cardboard, writing poor, simplistic plots and so on. I was so wrong! I recommended AC's autobiography to someone, she snootily told me she had never got into Christie and promptly changed the subject before I could suggest she try.