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.