Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Cécile is DeadCécile is Dead by Georges Simenon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"The rain was soft, cheerless and hopeless, like a widow's tears." A neat sentence from a good book. "Maigret and the Spinster" (also known as Cécile is Dead") is indeed a pretty good crime novel, and now I understand why I considered Georges Simenon a first-class writer, when reading his works for the first time, about 40 - 50 years ago. This 1942 book works well not only as a mystery, but it also conveys the hopelessness of life of poor, meek, and unlucky people, people who have to work days and nights to put cheapest food on their tables, honest people, who just have neither the drive nor the luck to succeed in life. This is a very sad novel. Extremely sad.

When Chief Superintendent Maigret comes to his office, Cécile, an unattractive spinster, is waiting for him again - she has been frequently coming to complain about strange events, like furniture being moved at night, that happen in the apartment she shares with her aunt. Maigret does not quite believe her and his colleagues make fun of the situation, implying Cécile's romantic attachment to him. But when she suddenly disappears from the waiting room, Maigret becomes concerned. He discovers that the aunt has been strangled, and soon he learns that Cécile has been killed as well.

Cécile is one of the saddest characters I know in the crime literature. A decent and caring person, she has been cheated out of even one ounce of happiness in her lonely life. She has never gotten a lucky break, while always being ready to serve others, and patiently waiting for help from people who are either too busy, too cruel, or too caring about their own sake to help her. Truly, "some are born to endless night," while so many scoundrels "are born to sweet delight." It is because of Cécile's character that my rating is so very high (the novel itself would just merit three and perhaps a quarter stars.)

Four stars.

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