Maigret: The Cellars of the Majestic

Upstairs-downstairs at the swank Hotel Majestic, and you know what side Maigret – “plebeian to the bone, to the marrow” – is on. Meanwhile, the rich guy (American, so you know he’s really rich) is an asshole even if he is innocent.

The class divide played a bigger role in some of the earlier books, like The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien, but you definitely feel its presence resurfacing here. Still, the social order is never fixed: a dancer can marry a millionaire. This upward mobility is seen in several stories, where we find a character with  proletarian/plebeian/peasant roots who has risen in the world. And, as Balzac put it, the secret behind many a great fortune is a crime that was never found out.

It seems Simenon was hitting his stride around this time. The characters are all interesting and the plot is relatively tight. I’m not sure what to think of Maigret’s outburst of violence at the end, but maybe that’s his peasant blood reasserting itself. Plus he’d earlier shown that he could take a punch himself and shrug it off. If you’re going to dish it out you have to be able to take it.

Maigret index

2 thoughts on “Maigret: The Cellars of the Majestic

    • They’re short, which is one of their biggest virtues. But Simenon’s style can be so pared down and abrupt the action is hard to follow. Among my favourites are the bitter ones that come a little later in the series like Signed, Picpus and Inspector Cadaver.

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