The Madman of Bergerac

The Madman of Bergerac


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“One of the greatest writers of the twentieth century . . . Simenon was unequaled at making us look inside, though the ability was masked by his brilliance at absorbing us obsessively in his stories.” —The Guardian

A tense, unforgettable Inspector Maigret mystery from Georges Simenon

“He recalled his travelling companion’s agitated sleep—was it really sleep?—his sighs, and his sobbing. Then the two dangling legs, the patent-leather shoes and hand-knitted socks . . . An insipid face. Glazed eyes. And Maigret was not surprised to see a grey beard eating into his cheeks.”

A distressed passenger leaps off a night train and vanishes into the woods. Maigret, on his way to a well-earned break in the Dordogne, is soon plunged into the pursuit of a madman, hiding amongst the seemingly respectable citizens of Bergerac.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780141394565
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/28/2015
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 279,868
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

GEORGES SIMENON (1903–1989) was born in Liège, Belgium. Best known in the English-speaking world as the author of the Inspector Maigret books, his prolific output of more than four hundred novels and short stories have made him a household name in continental Europe.

Read an Excerpt

Georges Simenon


Translated by Ros Schwartz


An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

375 Hudson Street

New York, New York 10014

First published in French as Les trois morts de Bergerac by Fayard 1932

This translation first published in Penguin Books 2015

Copyright © 1932 by Georges Simenon Limited

Translation copyright © 2015 by Ros Schwartz


MAIGRET ® Georges Simenon Limited

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

The moral rights of the author and translator have been asserted.

ISBN 978-0-698-19411-3

Cover photograph (detail) © Harry Gruyaert/Magnum Photos

Cover design by Alceu Chiesorin Nunes

Title Page


About the Author

1. The Restless Passenger

2. Five Disappointed Men

3. The Second-class Ticket

4. A Gathering of Madmen

5. The Patent-leather Shoes

6. The Seal

7. Samuel

8. A Book Collector

9. The Kidnapping of the Cabaret Singer

10. The Note

11. The Father

EXTRA: Chapter 1 from The Misty Harbour


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 Maigret novels.



‘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

1. The Restless Passenger

It all came about by pure chance! The previous day, Maigret had not known that he was about to go on a journey, even though it was the time of year when he usually began to find Paris oppressive. It was a March spiced up with a foretaste of spring and a clear, sharp sun that was already warm.

Madame Maigret was away in Alsace for a couple of weeks, staying with her sister, who was having a baby.

On the Wednesday morning, the inspector received a letter from a former colleague who had retired from the Police Judiciaire two years earlier and moved to the Dordogne.

… And of course, if you happen to be in the area, do come and stay with me for a few days. I have an elderly housekeeper who is only too happy when there are guests to fuss over. And it’s the start of the salmon season—

Maigret’s imagination was particularly fired by the letterhead with its drawing of a manor house flanked by two circular towers above the address:

La Ribaudière

near Villefranche-en-Dordogne

At midday, Madame Maigret telephoned from Alsace to say that her sister would probably give birth that night, adding, ‘You’d think it was summer … The fruit trees are in blossom!’

Chance … Pure chance … A little later, Maigret was in the chief’s office, chatting, when his superior said, ‘By the way … Did you ever go to Bordeaux to follow up that matter we talked about?’

It was a minor case of no urgency. At some point, Maigret had to go to Bordeaux to trawl through the municipal records.

One idea led to another: Bordeaux … the Dordogne.

At that exact moment, a ray of sunlight struck the crystal globe paperweight on the chief’s desk.

‘That’s a thought! I’m not working on anything at the moment.’

Later that afternoon, having purchased a first-class ticket to Villefranche, Maigret boarded the train at the Gare d’Orsay. The guard reminded him to change trains at Libourne.

‘Unless you’re in the sleeper compartment which gets hitched to the connecting train.’

Maigret thought no more about it, read a few newspapers and made his way to the dining car where he sat until ten o’clock.

When he returned to his compartment, he found the curtains drawn and the light dimmed. An elderly couple had commandeered both seats.

An attendant walked past.

‘Is there a free bunk by any chance?’

‘Not in first-class … but I think there’s one in second … If you don’t mind—’

‘Of course not!’

And Maigret lugged his carpet-bag along the corridors. The attendant opened several doors and finally found the compartment in which only the upper bunk was taken.

Here too, the light was dimmed and the curtains drawn.

‘Would you like me to switch on the light?’

‘No thank you.’

The air was warm and stuffy. There was a faint hissing sound, as if there was a leak in the radiator pipes. Maigret could hear the person in the top bunk tossing and turning and breathing heavily.

The inspector silently removed his shoes, jacket and waistcoat. He stretched out on the lower bunk and felt a slight draught coming from somewhere. He picked up his bowler hat and put it over his face for protection.

Did he fall asleep? He dozed off, in any case. Perhaps for an hour, perhaps two. Perhaps longer. But he remained half conscious.

And, in that semi-conscious state, he was aware of a feeling of discomfort. Was it because of the heat battling with the draught?

Or was it because of the man in the top bunk, who couldn’t keep still for a second? He tossed and turned continually, just above Maigret’s head. Every movement made a rustling sound.

His breathing was irregular, as if he had a fever.

After a time, Maigret got up, exasperated, went into the corridor and paced up and down. But there it was too cold.

So it was back into the compartment, and another attempt to sleep, his thoughts and sensations befuddled by drowsiness.

Cut off from the rest of the world, the atmosphere was that of a nightmare.

Had the man above him just raised himself up on his elbows and leaned over to try and get a look at his companion?

Maigret, meanwhile, didn’t dare move. The half-bottle of Bordeaux and the two brandies he had drunk in the dining car lay heavy in his stomach.

The night was long. Whenever the train stopped at a station, there was a babble of voices, footsteps in the corridors, doors slamming. It felt as if the train would never get going again.

It sounded as if the man was crying. There were moments when he held his breath. Then suddenly, there’d be a snivel and he would turn over and blow his nose.

Maigret regretted leaving his first-class compartment occupied by the elderly couple.

He dozed off, woke up and drifted off again. Finally, unable to stand it any longer, he coughed to steady his voice and said, ‘Monsieur, would you kindly try to keep still!’

He felt embarrassed, because his voice sounded much sterner than he had intended. Supposing the man was ill?

There was no answer. The tossing and turning stopped. The man must have been making a huge effort to avoid making the slightest sound. And it suddenly occurred to Maigret that it might not be a man after all, but a woman! He hadn’t seen the person who was wedged between the bunk and the ceiling.

And the heat must be suffocating up there. Now Maigret tried to turn down the radiator, but the control knob was jammed.

It was three o’clock in the morning.

‘I really must get some sleep!’

Now he was wide awake. He had become almost as jumpy as his fellow passenger. He listened out.


Excerpted from "The Madman of Bergerac"
by .
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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Muriel Spark

A truly wonderful writer, marvelously readable—lucid, simple, absolutely in tune with that world he creates.

John Mortimer

Simenon created one of the great moral detectives ... a master of the slow unfolding of the criminal mind.

P. D. James

A writer who, more than any other crime novelist, combined a high literary reputation with popular appeal.

From the Publisher

Maigret ranks with Holmes and Poirot in the pantheon of fictional detective immortals. (People)

Simenon remains an incredibly expert, dry, and inventive storyteller; the spell is infallible. (V. S. Pritchett)

Simenon created one of the great moral detectives . . . a master of the slow unfolding of the criminal mind. (John Mortimer)

A truly wonderful writer, marvelously readableùlucid, simple, absolutely in tune with that world he creates. (Muriel Spark)

A writer who, more than any other crime novelist, combined a high literary reputation with popular appeal. (P. D. James)

V. S. Pritchett

Simenon remains an incredibly expert, dry, and inventive storyteller; the spell is infallible.

Customer Reviews

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Madman of Bergerac 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
dougwood57 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In Georges Simenon's 16th Maigret novel, our man manages to combine a routine police assignment with pleasure trip to visit a retired colleague in Bergerac. While on the long train trip south, however, a fellow passenger arouses Maigret's suspicions and when the fellow leaps from the train in the middle of the night Maigret follows suit. Maigret catches a bullet for his trouble and awakes in Bergerac to find himself under suspicion of murder. Two local women have been killed in separate unexplained attacks with a ghoulish twist: The assailant pierced their hearts with a needle. The arrival of Maigret's friend, the former detective Leduc, soon dispels any notion of guilt and much to the chagrin of the local authorities Maigret's injuries prevent him from traveling. With the assistance of Madame Maigret, the intrepid Paris detective works to solve the crime from his bed! He manages to unravel quite a tangled web of deceit - just when the local prosecutor has decided that the case has been resolved by the killer's suicide. Simenon also uses the story's location to express his disdain for the rustics who inhabit Bergerac (At one point, Maigret asks his wife if the town has a movie theater. She answers affirmatively, but adds that she had seen the theater's current attraction at least three years ago in Paris!). The Madman of Bergerac has a few loose ends and the explanation of the murders is a bit far-fetched, but Simenon weaves an excellent subplot that takes center stage and ends with a bang - or two. Simenon gives us another entertaining Maigret story and as always it will not detain the reader for more than a few hours.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago