The Strangers in the House’ by Georges Simenon – He Didn’t Know About his Daughter’s Wild Parties?

 

‘The Strangers in the House’ by Georges Simenon (1940) – 194 pages     Translated from the French by Geoffrey Sainsbury

Here is another engaging roman durs (hard novel) from Georges Simenon, this one starring retired lawyer Hector Loursat.

Loursat comes from one of the most prominent families in the community and thus is well-to-do and lives in a big house with three floors. He is only 48 years old, but has already retired from his position as a lawyer several years ago. He has a twenty year old daughter Nicole. He was married, but his wife ran off and left him when Nicole was only two years old.

As a young man he was already a lonely figure, too proud, perhaps. He had imagined a person could marry and still keep his solitude. Then one day he came home to an empty house.”

The housekeeper took care of Nicole, and Loursat has spent most all of his time in his study drinking wine and reading poetry and philosophy. He is a virtual recluse in that study.

He doesn’t even realize that his 20 year old daughter Nicole is going to bars and is inviting her disreputable friends over to their house and having wild drunken parties in the third floor of the house.

On the night which begins our story Hector Loursat is sitting in his room as always drinking wine and reading when he hears a loud noise that seems to be coming from his own house. He goes upstairs to investigate and finds a man lying in bed, apparently shot, who dies as soon as he arrives. Stunned, he asks his daughter if she knows anything about it, and she claims to know nothing. Then he calls his cousin who happens to be the public prosecutor for their town to report the murder. Thus begins our murder mystery.

Since the Loursats are one of the most respected families in the town, they want to keep the news and gossip about this murder as quiet as possible.

Since Loursat is a retired lawyer, he agrees to defend his daughter’s male friend Edmond who has been accused and arrested for the murder. Thus the story evolves into a courtroom drama.

Daughter Nicole is surprised and gratified by her father’s interest in the case.

Not only had he said something, but he had actually betrayed an interest in what went on in the house. It was incredible!”

That the daughter Nicole would begin to have admiration for her father after being neglected by him for 18 years seems a little far-fetched. That is the only false note in the whole novel.

This novel did not grip me to the extent of some of Simenon’s other hard novels, for example ‘Dirty Snow’, but did hold my interest throughout.

At some point I will finally break down and read one of Simenon’s Inspector Maigret detective novels, but I haven’t reached that point yet.

Could someone recommend a really good Inspector Maigret novel?

 

Grade:    B+

 

2 responses to this post.

  1. I seem to remember The Bar on the Seine, and Night at the Crossroads were both good, and the very last one Maigret & Monsieur Charles is a cracker.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Hi Annabel,
      Thanks for the recommendations. So far I’ve avoided the Inspector Maigret novels worrying they might be too formulaic, but I suppose in the long run that is a false distinction.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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