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One of the world’s most successful crime writers, Georges Simenon has thrilled mystery lovers around the world since 1931 with his matchless creation Inspector Maigret. In The Bar on the Seine, Maigret must visit a prisoner he arrested and bear the news that his reprieve has been refused and he will be executed at dawn. But when the condemned man tells Maigret a story, his investigations lead him to the Guinguette a Deux Sous, a bar by the River Seine, and into the seamy underside of bourgeois Parisian life.
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Georges Simenon (1903–1989) began work as a reporter for a local newspaper at the age of sixteen, and at nineteen he moved to Paris to embark on a career as a novelist. He went on to write seventy-five Maigret novels and twenty-eight Maigret short stories.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
THE TWO-PENNY BARTranslated by David Watson
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
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Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
First published in French as La Guinguette à deux sous by Fayard 1932
This translation first published as The Bar on the Seine in Penguin Books 2003, and revised 2014
Copyright 1932 by Georges Simenon Limited
Translation copyright © Georges Simenon Limited, 2003, 2014
GEORGES SIMENON ® Simenon.tm
MAIGRET ® Georges Simenon Limited
Cover photograph (detail) © Burt Glinn/Magnum Photos
Front cover design by Alceu Chiesorin Nunes
Cover credit: © Harry Gruyaert/Magnum Photos
All rights reserved
The moral rights of the author and translator have been asserted
Typeset by Palimpsest Book Production Ltd, Falkirk, Stirlingshire
About the Author
1. Saturday with Monsieur Basso
2. The Lady’s Husband
3. The Two Boats
4. Meetings in Rue Royale
5. The Doctor’s Car
7. The Second-Hand Dealer
8. James’s Mistress
9. Twenty-Two Francs of Ham
10. Inspector Maigret’s Absence
11. Ulrich’s Murderer
EXTRA: Chapter 1 from The Shadow Puppet
PENGUIN CLASSICSTHE TWO-PENNY BAR
‘I love reading Simenon. He makes me think of Chekhov’
— William Faulkner
‘A truly wonderful writer ... marvellously readable – lucid, simple, absolutely in tune with the world he creates’
— Muriel Spark
‘Few writers have ever conveyed with such a sure touch, the bleakness of human life’
— A. N. Wilson
‘One of the greatest writers of the twentieth century ... Simenon was unequalled at making us look inside, though the ability was masked by his brilliance at absorbing us obsessively in his stories’
‘A novelist who entered his fictional world as if he were part of it’
— Peter Ackroyd
‘The greatest of all, the most genuine novelist we have had in literature’
— André Gide
‘Superb ... The most addictive of writers ... A unique teller of tales’
‘The mysteries of the human personality are revealed in all their disconcerting complexity’
— Anita Brookner
‘A writer who, more than any other crime novelist, combined a high literary reputation with popular appeal’
— P. D. James
‘A supreme writer ... Unforgettable vividness’
‘Compelling, remorseless, brilliant’
— John Gray
‘Extraordinary masterpieces of the twentieth century’
— John BanvilleABOUT THE AUTHOR
Georges Simenon was born on 12 February 1903 in Liège, Belgium, and died in 1989 in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he had lived for the latter part of his life. Between 1931 and 1972 he published seventy-five novels and twenty-eight short storiesfeaturing Inspector Maigret.
Simenon always resisted identifying himself with his famous literary character, but acknowledged that they shared an important characteristic:
My motto, to the extent that I have one, has been noted often enough, and I’ve always conformed to it. It’s the one I’ve given to old Maigret, who resembles me in certain points ... ‘understand and judge not’.
Penguin is publishing the entire series of Maigret novels.
1. Saturday with Monsieur Basso
A radiant late afternoon. The sunshine almost as thick as syrup in the quiet streets of the Left Bank. And everything – the people’s faces, the countless familiar sounds of the street – exuded a joy to be alive.
There are days like this, when ordinary life seems heightened, when the people walking down the street, the trams and cars all seem to exist in a fairy tale.
It was 27 June. When Maigret arrived at the gate of the Santé prison he found the guard gazing soppily at a little white cat that was playing with the dog from the dairy.
Some days the pavement must be more resonant underfoot: Maigret’s footsteps echoed in the vast courtyard. He walked to the end of a corridor, where he asked a warder:
‘Does he know? ...’
A key turned in the lock. The bolt was pulled back. A high-ceilinged cell, very clean. A man stood up, looking unsure as to which expression to adopt.
‘All right, Lenoir?’ the inspector asked.
The man nearly smiled. But a thought came into his mind and his face hardened. He frowned suspiciously, and his mouth twisted into a sneer for a moment or two. Then he shrugged his shoulders and held out his hand.
‘I see,’ he said.
‘What do you see?’
A resigned smile.
‘Give it a rest, eh? You must be here because ...’
‘I’m here because I’m off on holiday tomorrow and ...’
The prisoner gave a hollow laugh. He was a tall young man. His dark hair was brushed back. He had regular features, fine brown eyes. His thin dark moustache set off the whiteness of his teeth, which were as sharp as a rodent’s.
‘That’s very kind of you, inspector ...’
He stretched, yawned, put down the lid of the toilet in the corner of the cell which had been left up.
‘Excuse the mess ...’
Then suddenly, looking Maigret in the eye, he said:
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