Saturday, September 5, 2020

"They Had Found Nothing At All, Neither the Murdered Nor, Of Course, the Murderer"

"Elusive Witness."
By Georges Simenon (1903-89).
Translated from the French ("Le Témoignage de l’Enfant de Chœur," in Maigret et l’Inspecteur Malgracieux, 1947; translator unknown).
First appearance in English: Suspense Magazine, Summer 1951.
Novelette (18 pages).
Online at (HERE).

     "But what became of the body?"

An excellent question under the circumstances; but, equally problematic are the witnesses, who, for reasons of their own, are, to a greater or lesser degree, all unreliable.

Principal characters:
~ Justin:
  "I don't want to go there any more. I'm scared."
~ Besson:
  "Chief, you don't believe a good spanking would lead to a solution?"
~ The judge:
  "And you, if I'm not mistaken, are the famous Inspector Maigret, whom the authorities have deigned to send to our city to overhaul the Mobile Squad . . ."
~ Inspector Jules Maigret:
  "I have a feeling I'm going to solve it in just a few minutes, if I don't lose my 
train of thought . . ."
~ Madame Maigret:
  "I knew you'd find a good excuse."
- According to FictionMags, Suspense Magazine was "a second attempt to cash in on the popular CBS radio mystery show of the same name, this version also ran for only four issues but included a wider range of material including a lot of science fiction."
- There's no shortage of info about Georges Joseph Christian Sim, a.k.a. Simenon, on the Interweb: Wikipedia (HERE and HERE), Steve Trussel's huge Maigret website (homepage 
HERE and WARNING! SPOILERS! story page HERE), and Books and Writers (HERE).
- For a while there, Simenon was all the rage, primarily lionized by the intelligentsia for his nearly five hundred novels, principally because they tended to "transcend the genre," never a good idea in our view when you're limiting yourself to the unique genre of detective fiction, which is incapable of being transcended without destroying it. Ellery Queen, the editor, reprinted several dozen Simenon short stories in EQMM (intermittently, 1942-77). Apart from Maigret, FictionMags lists his other series characters: Joseph Leborgne (1929 and 1932), Dr. Jean Dollent (1943 and 1947), G.7 (1932 and 1947), and Monsieur Froget (4 stories in EQMM: 1942, 1944, 1946, 1948).

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