Maigret and the Minister | Georges Simenon #ParisinJuly

As always when he returned home at night, Maigret paused at the same place, just past the gas lamp, and looked up at the lit windows of his apartment.

Every July since 2017, there has been one rainy, cold, miserable weekend that becomes my Maigret weekend. This past weekend was it! There is nothing sweeter than to curl up with a Maigret or two, in front of the heater with a warm cup of tea (Buddha’s tears). Given there are 75+ Maigrets and numerous stand alone stories, I have created a tradition that will be with me until my dying days!

Maigret and the Minister sees us returning to Paris after our brief excusion to the countryside in Maigret Goes to School. Both stories note Maigret’s tendency to be a creature of habit. I suspect it is this (unconscious) love of routine and detail that makes Maigret such an effective detective (sorry, couldn’t help myself!!)

As the title suggests, this is a political crime that Maigret is called in to solve. No murder or missing person, but missing documents instead. To solve the mystery, Maigret needs to delve into the mind of a powerful blackmailer.

More of the private Maigret is revealed as we observe his relationship with the minister in question. The politician is a rare breed – an ethical, conscientious public servant whose background is very similar to Maigret’s – ‘provincial families of peasant stock who had gone up in the world.’ They even look alike, more like cousins though rather than brothers.

The missing documents concern a tragedy at the (fictional) Clairfond sanatorium on the Plateau d’Assy where 128 children die when a subterranean river undermines the foundations of the building.

Maigret and the Minister is another early spring story, where ‘for the first time that year Maigret had left his overcoat at the office.’ Simenon also manages, in his own inimitable way, to compare the sun to the ‘sharpness and coolness of a local white wine.

The day had been overcast, neither cold nor warm, with a sudden downpour at around two o’clock in the afternoon.

Facts:

The Plateau d’Assy was a well known resort area reserved for patients with tuberculosis. After WWI several sanatoriums were built, including one for children and adolescents in 1932 called Roc des Fiz sanatorium. I wondered if Simenon was referring to an actual event, but there was nothing from the time to indicate that this was so.

Bizarrely, though, in April 1970 the Roc des Fiz building was destroyed by a landslide killing 71 people, including 56 children – fifteen years AFTER Simenon wrote about such a possibility. A memorial was erected by survivors and the families of the victims in 2020.

Favourite Quote:

The smell of coffee from the cup his wife was holding tickled his nostrils. His senses and his brain started up rather like an orchestra when the musicians in the pit start tuning their instruments. There was no co-ordination yet.

Favourite or Forget:

Another favourite.

I enjoyed the political intrigue and learning about the tuberculosis sanitoriums afterwards (this post was a fair bit longer than the one you are now reading. A ‘saving draft’ glitch meant that I lost all that research).

As Mr Books so philosophically said, perhaps there was a reason. Maybe the post was too long by far and the summary you now have in the FACTS section is a much better way to go. C’est la vie!

Title: Maigret and the Minister | Maigret and the Calame Report | Maigret chez le ministre
Author: Georges Simenon
Translator: Ros Schwartz
ISBN: 9780241279854
Imprint: Penguin Classics
Published: 16 October 2017 (originally published August 1954)
Format: paperback
Pages: 184
Dates Read: 15th July 2022 - 16 July 2022
  • This post was written on the traditional land of the Wangal clan, one of the 29 clans of the Eora Nation within the Sydney basin. This Reading Life acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are this land’s first storytellers.

17 thoughts on “Maigret and the Minister | Georges Simenon #ParisinJuly

  1. Pingback: Paris In July 2022
  2. Great review! Too bad about losing the draft, I’m sure it was interesting. As it happens I also read a couple of Maigrets for Paris in July last week also, and many other participants as you know are also reading this incredibly long series! Amazing how interest in these books has lasted through the decades.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    Like

  3. I just lost the draft of my comment while filling in name, rank, serial number (email, password).

    I haven’t read this one, I’ll look out for it.

    Surely Paris didn’t have gaslights in the 1950s.

    Maigrets going up in the world – his father rose to steward (farm manager) on a large property. I don’t recall ever seeing what schooling young Maigret got.

    Like

    1. I was curious and duck duck go’ed ‘gas street lights in Paris’ and discovered that the last street gas lights were converted to electricty in 1975. There is one left, affectionately named Léon the last gas streetlamp in Paris. Although he’s actually in the municipality of Malakoff.

      Maigret clearly does not like political intrigue, but found himself drawn to this particular minister. If this had been Anne of Green Gables instead of a detective novel, I would have said they were kindred spirits.

      And I’m sorry you’re still having issues logging in to comment. Thank you for persisting. Hope you’re enjoying the Qld sunshine!

      Like

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