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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Late Monsieur Gallet

Georges Simenon

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To purchase The Late Monsieur Gallet

Title: The Late Monsieur Gallet
Author: Georges Simenon
Genre: Novel
Written: 1931 (Eng. 2013)
Length: 155 pages
Original in: French
Availability: The Late Monsieur Gallet - US
The Late Monsieur Gallet - UK
The Late Monsieur Gallet - Canada
Monsieur Gallet, décédé - Canada
The Late Monsieur Gallet - India
Monsieur Gallet, décédé - France
Maigret und der verstorbene Monsieur Gallet - Deutschland
Il defunto signor Gallet - Italia
El difunto filántropo - España
  • The second Inspector Maigret novel
  • French title: Monsieur Gallet, décédé
  • Translated by Anthea Bell
  • Previously translated and published as The Death of Monsieur Gallet (1932, translated by Anthony Abbot) and Maigret Stonewalled (1963, translated by Margaret Marshall)

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Our Assessment:

B : fine mystery with a decent twist

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Literary Review . 12/2013 John Banville
TLS . 9/5/2014 Julian Barnes

  From the Reviews:
  • "The Late Monsieur Gallet, concerning a case in which "everything, without exception, is fake", features a commercial traveller who continues to pretend he is going off to work eighteen years after being sacked; in reality, he spends his time soliciting contributions from ageing royalists for various legitimist projects, and then purloining their contributions. This is a rich novelistic idea which feels as if it deserves fuller treatment than a thriller can award it." - Julian Barnes, Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The Late Monsieur Gallet takes Detective Chief Inspector Maigret of the Flying Squad out of Paris, to investigate a perplexing death at a hotel in Sancerre. A guest, Émile Gallet, has been found dead -- both shot and stabbed. Maigret first goes to collect the widow and bring her to identify the body, and she's convinced it can't be her husband: she even has a postcard dated 26 June and sent from Rouen, surely proving that it can't be her husband who was killed on the 25th in Sancerre .....
       She's wrong, and the posthumous postcard is just another of the many odd things about this case. Maigret isn't eager to dig in: "it had all the hallmarks of a particularly distasteful investigation". It also proves confounding:

     At first the case had looked like nothing to speak of. A man who did not seem out of the ordinary had been killed by someone unknown in a hotel room. But each new item of information complicated the problem instead of simplifying it.
       There's the fact that he was shot from outside, through the window, yet stabbed -- obviously -- close at hand, despite the relative inaccessibility of the room. And then there are the odd facts about the victim, who has been living a lie for some eighteen years, having postcards sent on his behalf to convince his wife (and son) that he's doing his job when in fact he is elsewhere, pursuing a rather different sort of not-quite employment. There's also the large life insurance policy he had taken out .....
       A pretty sorry fellow, Émile Gallet is hard to figure out -- as is who might have wanted to kill him, although Maigret soon figures out that there was clearly some blackmailing going on. But what secrets did he have ?
       As even Maigret comes to admit:
I don't think I've ever known a case that was so complicated and so simple at the same time.
       The gunshot and who the shooter might have been prove especially confounding -- especially as the most obvious suspects have alibis the next time the gun goes off (the matching bullets proving it's the same weapon).
       The solution lies in the victim's past, and Maigret does, of course, figure everything out. A nice twist is that along with this unconventional crime comes an unconventional resolution, far different from the usual neatly tied-up investigation, with the guilty party arrested and ready to be tried.
       Set at the height of summer, largely away from his home-turf, with the hulking Maigret annoyed at having to spend his time away from Paris and his patience tried by the many locals, including those with information to offer, on the sly and otherwise, Simenon does the atmosphere well. Less frenetic than the first Maigret, Pietr the Latvian, The Late Monsieur Gallet is a quite well-paced mystery that comes with surprisingly many turns -- a simple-seeming case that really is, at heart, simple, but only reveals itself as such once all the pieces have been put in place. Aspects of it feel a bit forced -- the gunshot, in particular -- but overall it's clever enough to make for a satisfying little mystery, and it is brought to a nice conclusion.

- M.A.Orthofer, 9 March 2014

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The Late Monsieur Gallet: Reviews: Georges Simenon: Other books by Georges Simenon under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Belgian author Georges Simenon (1903-1989) wrote hundreds of books, and is especially famous for his detective-fiction.

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