I had earmarked “The Ripening Seed” by Colette for my Paris in July read, but the mood was not right so I confess I abandoned it. I’ve learnt that there’s no point forcing reading – you’ve got to read what you want, when you want or it just doesn’t work. Instead, I was drawn to a nice thick volume of Maigret short stories, “Maigret’s Pipe”, which I recently picked up. I read the first story, which is a longish short story, over the weekend and was as usual bowled over by Simenon’s control of a story.

The setting was, as ever, Maigret’s Paris. Even when he’s away from the place, he’s a Parisian, and he’s always uncomfortable out of his own environment. The streets of the city feature in all the stories and in my imagination they’re always black and white and rainy! However, to the story at hand!

By Jac. de Nijs / Anefo (Nationaal Archief) [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

“Maigret’s Pipe” is a clever tale which begins with the great detective mislaying his favourite smoking aid, his briar pipe. Irritated by the loss, he can’t settle till he goes back over the events of the day, trying to work out when he last had it. What appears to be a simple matter leads on to a much more complex crime and situation and as usual with Simenon, I had absolutely no idea of the solution! I haven’t read many Maigret short stories and I did wonder how the character would work in a truncated setting. But as usual, the tale was enjoyable, atmospheric and entertaining. What I love about Simenon’s writing is how he can conjure up a place or person very simply in a few sentences – he brings what is probably a lost Paris alive! I hope to read more of the stories in this book as July goes on but for now” Maigret’s Pipe” has transported me to the City of Light!

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