Thank God Simenon has his style.
Thank all that’s holy that, as he matured as an author, he had a way of conjuring small town nightclubs and backstreets and dancers with dubious morals, to create a small seedy world that feels so gloriously alive and real.
As really, if he had to rely on plot alone, I can’t imagine his reputation would stand up to much scrutiny. Here we have a Detective Inspector behaving in a way no police officer would ever behave and keep his job. You think you’ve seen rogue cops on American TV shows? Well, this is a whole other level. I’m not going to give much away, but ask yourself at the end – would any serious policeman do what Maigret does?
Still though, I liked this book because of the world he creates and most particularly the character of the title character, Adele. She isn’t in it the narrative all that much, to be fair, but Simenon still draws her so incredibly well. A flirtatious, yet sad figure who has found herself in this seedy world – where either she is exploiting her beauty or its been exploited for her – and she makes the best of it that she can. She is a much more substantial figure than the boys she encounters, much more interesting and enigmatic than all the other characters on the page frankly. She is someone who cries out for a larger part, to be the star of this book named after her rather than a bit player.
I enjoyed THE DANCER AT THE GAI-MOULIN – it’s a lot of fun (some of it bonkers, thanks to our detective) – but if I had a wish, it’s that we could have spent less time with Maigret and his antics, and more with this entrancing woman.
My debut novel, THE WANNABES – which has been out of print for a little while – is now available for free. A supernatural thriller of beautiful actresses and deadly ambition in London town, it’s well worth your time. You can get your copy here!