Simenon’s astonishing narrative skills
The theme of a love triangle, cherished by Simenon, is represented with an original twist in this novel, thanks to a structure based on the expert use of word repetitions. The novel starts with the naked bodies of two lovers in a hotel room, but after a few lines we discover that this image is part of the protagonist’s memories, which are analysed in the course of several interviews with the police and some lawyers. The repeated time references, which mix past and present, are handled with such mastery that the reader is not disoriented; on the contrary, they make the story even more thrilling, before the full disclosure in the last pages. The story is told from the male protagonist’s point of view: he is depicted, with Simenon’s unique ability, in his psychological complexity made of impulses, guilty feelings, pusillanimity, manly sense of chivalry. On the background, the fascinating character of a femme fatale stands out. The author avoids exploring her, so she comes across as even more vivid. A refined proof of writing.
Translation by Camilla Girardi