Inspector Maigret loses himself in coastal luxury—and danger—in this devastating mystery set on the French Riviera
“It had a smell of holidays. The previous evening, in Cannes Harbour, with the setting sun, had also had the smell of holidays, especially the Ardena, whose owner swaggered in front of two girls with gorgeous figures...”
Dazzled at first by the glamour of sunny Antibes, Maigret soon finds himself immersed in the less salubrious side of the Riviera as he retraces the final steps of a local eccentric.
About the Author
Shaun Whiteside is a Northern Irish translator of French, German, Dutch, and Italian literature. He lives in London with his wife and son.
Read an Excerpt
By Georges Simenon, David Watson
Penguin Publishing GroupCopyright © 2015 Georges Simenon
All rights reserved.
<section epub:type="cover"> </section> <section epub:type="titlepage">
LIBERTY BARTranslated by David Watson </section>
1. The Dead Man and His Two Women
2. Tell Me About Brown …
3. William’s Goddaughter
4. The Gentian
5. The Funeral of William Brown
6. The Shameful Companion
7. The Order
8. The Four Heirs
10. The Divan
11. A Love Story
EXTRA: Chapter 1 from Lock No. 1
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Georges Simenon was born on 12 February 1903 in Liège, Belgium, and died in 1989 in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he had lived for the latter part of his life. Between 1931 and 1972 he published seventy-five novels and twenty-eight short stories featuring Inspector Maigret.
Simenon always resisted identifying himself with his famous literary character, but acknowledged that they shared an important characteristic:
My motto, to the extent that I have one, has been noted often enough, and I’ve always conformed to it. It’s the one
I’ve given to old Maigret, who resembles me in certain points … ‘understand and judge not’.
Penguin is publishing the entire series of
‘I love reading Simenon. He makes me think of Chekhov’
– William Faulkner
‘A truly wonderful writer … marvellously readable – lucid, simple, absolutely in tune with the world he creates’
– Muriel Spark
‘Few writers have ever conveyed with such a sure touch, the bleakness of human life’
– A. N. Wilson
‘One of the greatest writers of the twentieth century … Simenon was unequalled at making us look inside, though the ability was masked by his brilliance at absorbing us obsessively in his stories’
‘A novelist who entered his fictional world as if he were part of it’
– Peter Ackroyd
‘The greatest of all, the most genuine novelist we have had in literature’
– André Gide
‘Superb … The most addictive of writers … A unique teller of tales’
‘The mysteries of the human personality are revealed in all their disconcerting complexity’
– Anita Brookner
‘A writer who, more than any other crime novelist, combined a high literary reputation with popular appeal’
– P. D. James
‘A supreme writer … Unforgettable vividness’
‘Compelling, remorseless, brilliant’
– John Gray
‘Extraordinary masterpieces of the twentieth century’
– John Banville<section epub:type="chapter">
1. The Dead Man and His Two
It all began with a holiday feeling.
When Maigret stepped off the train, half of the railway station at Antibes was bathed in sunlight so intense that the people coming and going were reduced to shadows. Shadows in straw hats and white trousers, carrying tennis racquets. The air was humming. There were palm trees and cactuses along the quayside, a strip of blue sea beyond the street-lamps.
Someone was running to meet him.
‘Detective Chief Inspector
Maigret, I believe? I recognized you from a photo that was in the papers …
Inspector Boutigues …’
Boutigues! Even the name was comical!
Boutigues had already picked up Maigret’s suitcases and was dragging them towards the subway. He was wearing a pearl-grey suit with a red carnation in his buttonhole and shoes with fabric uppers.
‘Is this your first visit to
Maigret mopped his brow and tried to keep up with his cicerone as he threaded his way between the groups of people, overtaking everyone. Eventually, he found himself standing before a horse-drawn carriage with a cream-coloured canvas roof, its small tassels bobbing about. Another forgotten sensation: the bounce of the springs, the coachman’s crack of the whip, the muffled sound of hoofs on softened bitumen.
‘We’ll go and have a drink first … No, no, I insist … The Café Glacier, coachman …’
It was nearby. Boutigues explained:
‘Place Macé … In the centre of Antibes …’
A pretty square with a garden, and cream or orange canopies on all the houses. They simply had to sit out on a terrace and drink a Pernod. Opposite was a shop window full of sports outfits, swimming-costumes, beach robes … To the left, a photographer’s studio … A few smart cars parked along the pavement … That holiday feeling again!
‘Would you like to see the prisoners first or visit the scene of the crime?’
And Maigret replied without really knowing what he was saying, as if someone had asked him what he was drinking:
‘The crime scene.’
The holiday continued. Maigret smoked a cigar that his colleague had offered him. The horse trotted along the promenade.
To the right, villas hidden away among the pines; to the left, a few rocks, then the blue of the sea dotted here and there with white sails.
‘Have you got your bearings yet?
Behind us is Antibes … Where we are is the start of Cap d’Antibes, which is nothing but villas, some very expensive villas at that …’
Maigret nodded, blissfully. His head was befuddled by all this sunshine, and he squinted at Boutigues’ red flower.
‘Boutigues, wasn’t it?’
‘Yes, I’m a Niçois. Or rather, I’m Nicene …’
In other words, pure Niçois, Niçois squared, cubed!
‘Over here. Can you see that white villa? That one there.’
It wasn’t intentional, but
Maigret observed all this in disbelief. He just couldn’t get into work mode, couldn’t convince himself that he was here to investigate a crime.
He had, however, received some very particular instructions:
‘A man called Brown has been killed in Cap d’Antibes. It’s all over the papers. Best if you avoid any dramas.’
‘During the war, Brown worked for military intelligence.’
And here they were. The carriage drew to a halt. Boutigues took a small key from his pocket and opened the gate, then crunched along the gravel of the path.
‘It’s one of the least attractive villas on the cape!’
However, it wasn’t that bad either. The mimosas filled the air with a sickly scent. There were still a few golden oranges hanging on the miniature trees. Then there were some odd-looking flowers that Maigret didn’t even know.
‘The property opposite belongs to a maharajah … He’s probably in residence right now … Five hundred metres further along, on the left, there is a member of the Academy … Then there is that famous dancer who lives with an English lord …’
Yes! And so what? Maigret wanted to settle down on the bench next to the house and sleep for an hour. He had, after all, been travelling all night.
‘I’ll fill you in on the bare bones of the situation.’
Boutigues had opened the door, and they found themselves in a cool hallway whose picture windows looked out over the sea.
‘Brown lived here for about ten years …’
‘Did he work?’
‘No … he must have had a private income … People used to call them Brown and his two women …’
‘Only one of them was actually his mistress: the daughter … Her name is Gina Martini.’
‘She’s in prison?’
‘Her mother too … The three of them lived together without a maid …’
That much was evident from the state of the house, which was far from clean. There were maybe one or two beautiful things, some valuable items of furniture, some objects that had seen better days.
Everything was dirty and in a mess.
There were too many rugs, hangings and throws spread out over the armchairs, too many things impregnated with dust …
‘These are the facts: Brown had a garage just next to the villa … He kept an old-fashioned car which he drove himself … He used it mainly to get to the market in Antibes …’
‘Yes,’ sighed Maigret, as he watched a man fishing for sea-urchins, probing the bed of the clear sea with his split reed.
‘Someone noticed that the car had been left by the roadside for three days and nights … The people around here don’t poke their noses into each other’s business … No one was unduly worried … On Monday …’
‘Really? And today’s
Thursday? … OK.’
Excerpted from Liberty Bar by Georges Simenon, David Watson. Copyright © 2015 Georges Simenon. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are Saying About This
“One of the greatest writers of the twentieth century . . . Simenon was unequalled at making us look inside, though the ability was masked by his brilliance at absorbing us obsessively in his stories.”
“I love reading Simenon. He makes me think of Chekhov.”
“The greatest of all, the most genuine novelist we have had in literature.”
“A supreme writer . . . unforgettable vividness.”
“Superb . . . The most addictive of writers . . . A unique teller of tales.”
“Compelling, remorseless, brilliant.”
“A truly wonderful writer . . . marvellously readable—lucid, simple, absolutely in tune with the workd he creates.”
“A novelist who entered his fictional world as it he were a part of it.”
“Extraordinary masterpieces of the twentieth century.”