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THE HOTEL MAJESTIC
By Georges Simenon
Penguin Books, 2007 ($12.00)
Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel
Prosper Donge was ten minutes late to work at the Hotel Majestic because of a flat tire on his bicycle. This tardiness was most unusual for him, and made a big difference in later events. His day went from bad to worse - extremely worse - when he opened a locker in the staff dressing area and discovered the corpse of the wife of a rich American hotel guest. Inspector Maigret at first considers the man one of several possible suspects, but when Donge and his companion, Charlotte, blatantly lie to him, he becomes the front runner and is arrested for murder. Maigret digs deeper into the lives of the suspects and the victim, and finds reason to believe Donge is innocent.
Mrs. Clark, the murder victim, has a somewhat checkered past as a hostess in a French nightclub. She let it be known to her co-workers and friends that she planned to marry well and leave that life far behind, and it seemed that she had succeeded. Her husband doted on her, and allowed her to spoil their red-headed son. The inspector has to journey far and wide to find out why her streak of luck was so brutally cut short. His inquiries take him from Paris to the mimosa-bedecked streets and seedy nightclubs of Cannes, and into the realm of prostitution, drug addiction, deceit, and the ever-popular blackmail.
Inspector Jules Maigretís police department in the 1940ís lacked all the bells and whistles offered by todayís technological advances, but he always managed to get his man by using his knowledge of human behavior, with a bit of luck thrown in from time to time.
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