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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Maigret and the Saturday Caller

Georges Simenon

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To purchase Maigret and the Saturday Caller

Title: Maigret and the Saturday Caller
Author: Georges Simenon
Genre: Novel
Written: 1962 (Eng. 2018)
Length: 148 pages
Original in: French
Availability: Maigret and the Saturday Caller - US
Maigret and the Saturday Caller - UK
Maigret and the Saturday Caller - Canada
Maigret et le client du samedi - Canada
Maigret et le client du samedi - France
Maigret und der Samstagsklient - Deutschland
Maigret e il cliente del sabato - Italia
Maigret y el cliente del sábado - España
from: Bookshop.org (US)
  • French title: Maigret et le client du samedi
  • Translated by Siân Reynolds
  • Previously translated by Tony White (1964)

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Our Assessment:

A- : simple story, but very well handled

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Sunday Times* . 4/10/1964 J.S.

(*: review of earlier translation)

  From the Reviews:
  • "(A) superb demonstration that the crime story need not contain any surprises. Our total absorption springs from the revelations of character made through the long interrogation of the protagonists. (...) (T)his short book is a marvel of apparent slightness and real subtlety." - J.S., Sunday Times

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 'Saturday caller' of the title is Léonard Planchon, a man who has shown up at police headquarters, the Quai des Orfèvres, on several Saturdays over the previous two months, hoping to talk to Detective Chief Inspector Maigret but who always either loses his nerve or is ignored. On the Saturday the novel opens he didn't wait around at headquarters but rather shows up at Maigret's home. Planchon is eager to unburden himself, but also scared; the domestic setting makes it a bit easier for him to get out what he's been wanting to say. It still takes a while, but he finally confesses to the inspector: "I want to kill my wife !"
       Planchon is thirty-six and owns his own humble painting and decorating business. He's been married to Renée for eight years, and they have a seven-year-old child, Isabelle, whom Planchon dotes on. But he has good reason to want to kill his wife -- and her lover --, finding himself in a position where he is convinced: "I've got to ! There's no other way out ...". Only his worry about what would happen to Isabelle seems to have held him back so far.
       With no crime committed yet, there's little Maigret can do or advise -- though he thinks Planchon won't do it; after all, as he tells him: "you have come to see me". Still, it's clear that Planchon -- turning also to drink -- is being pushed to a breaking point. Maigret can't let the whole thing go and wants Planchon to stay in touch -- to call him every day.
       Planchon does call him -- and then doesn't, and Maigret can't leave the case be. Calling Planchon's home, he's told that he is out -- and won't be back soon. Wondering what happened to him, and growing more suspicious of the wife and the lover, Maigret investigates -- even though it looks like a straightforward case of a man who simply left his home (and what was, after all, an untenable situation).
       Did Planchon simply abandon his home ? Commit suicide ? But either way, there's no trace of him, and so Maigret keeps on pushing and digging, improvising by instinct: "He did not yet know how he would handle this. He had no precise plan". When he calls in the wife's lover for questioning he admits: "I always have questions to ask, but I'm not quite sure which ones".
       Eventually, of course, the pieces fall into place, and the case is solved. What happened is hardly surprising -- but no less poignant for that.
       With its focus on the trio of Planchon, his wife, and her lover, Maigret and the Saturday Caller is a tight little mystery that uses and presents these three very different personalities very well, with Planchon's awful dilemma and what it does to him contrasting so well with the cruel confidence with which his wife and her lover speak and act. Maigret's interactions with each of them, as well as the woman Planchon turned to in his misery, are very good, a variety of very different kinds of chess games quite masterfully presented.
       Simenon also presents Maigret well -- recently promoted, but itching to do the legwork, still eager: "to see, to smell, to absorb the atmosphere of a case" on site. The television now in the Maigret household has become part of the couple's routine -- but Maigret still wants to get out there, to do rather than just see, to be the one sniffing around rather than just relying on the reports his underlings phone in as they do the legwork.
       The resolution is also well handled -- realistically: "Maigret heard nothing of all this for several months", and when he again has to play a small part in the proceedings it's only that which he deals with: "he had no time to wait in the courtroom, since he had just been told about a crime in a luxury apartment in Rue Lauriston".
       Planchon is a real sad sack -- to the extent that even though his situation is such an awful one, it's hard to entirely sympathize with --, with Simenon describing his sad descent in all its dispiriting detail. As off-putting as the scenario is, and as unsurprising as the outcome is, it also makes for a compelling story, one that is very neatly crafted by Simenon.

- M.A.Orthofer, 20 December 2023

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Maigret and the Saturday Caller: Reviews (*: review of the earlier translation): 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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© 2023 the complete review

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