Monday, August 8, 2011

The Yellow Dog: Review


Finished The Yellow Dog, an Inspector Maigret mystery, by Georges Simenon last night and decided I better take a break from transferring old reviews to get this one written before the memory of the book leaks out my ear. Not kidding...middle age memory combined with post-anesthesia brain does not make for a good mix. So, here's the scoop....

The Yellow Dog is all about a stormy week in the coastal town of Concarneau. It starts with the shooting of Monsieur Mostaguen, a local wine merchant who doesn't have an enemy in the world. Inspector Maigret is called in to investigate, but before he can get very far there are more mysterious happenings. Poison in the customary drinks of a set of prominent citizens who often play cards and drink together. Then one of their number disappears, leaving an empty car and bloodstains behind. The townspeople become panicked with each incident and it doesn't help that someone is sending inflammatory messages to the newspapers. And then there's the giant-sized tramp lurking about. Will Maigret discover the secret that is at the bottom of it all? Will he find out what Emma, the hotel waitress, has to hide? And what about the yellow dog--which appears each time tragedy is about to strike?

For most of the book, I was right there with the mayor of the town--I couldn't figure out what the heck Maigret was doing. He seemed to spend a lot of time looking at the scenery--the houses, the streets, the coastline--and not a whole lot of time actually investigating. This is a really good example of atmosphere. Simenon gives a great picture of a town in the grip of terror and anxiety. Even the descriptions of the countryside and the buildings add to the picture of panic. High marks for reeling the reader into the feel of the story. But, as a mystery novel, I'm afraid it doesn't quite meet the mark. There is no way the reader could possibly come up with the complete solution--you might get half-way there, but not all the way. I prefer the usual Golden Age rules of fair play. A bare three stars--mostly for the wonderfully descriptive writing.



7 comments:

Col (Col Reads) said...

I absolutely hate it when I don't have enough information to figure out a mystery myself, so I'm not sure I'd like this book. Is the rest of the series like that?

Bev Hankins said...

I've had better luck with some of the later stories in the series....

Yvette said...

I love Maigret even if the whodunit aspect is slightly off.

But I can understand if you consider this 'unfair play'.

That doesn't matter so much to me, to tell you the truth. :)

wutheringwillow said...

Oh Bev! I don't think I have ever properly thanked you for being such a good source of 'mystery reads recommendation' for me! Every time you post another one of your mystery reviews I find something else to add to my wish list. Thanks to you I found Cyril Hare and have got at least two-three mystery reads I would have never checked out on my TBR pile. So thank you Bev for being such an inspiration to this fellow mystery buff!

That wonderful Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge prize you sent me doesn't hurt either! ;-)

Bev Hankins said...

@wuthering willow: You're welcome! I just love having the chance to share my love of vintage mysteries with you all.

Remedies said...

The Yellow Dog is all about a stormy week in the coastal town of Concarneau.

goodbyereality411 said...

This was an interesting review.