Penguin are re-translating and re-publishing Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret series, but the only one of the new series I’ve yet seen is The Carter of La Providence (perhaps I haven’t been looking hard enough?). This indeed is a fascinating book. It revolves around life on the French canals in the late 1920s, often in bleak conditions, complete with horse drawn barges, the “carters” (horse handlers), the locks and lock-keepers, the congestion, the cafes that served the people working on the barges and lots more. Apparently Simenon spent six months in 1928 navigating the rivers and canals of France, on board his own boat, and his experiences clearly shine through in this book.
Here, who “dunnit” is no surprise, because the title of the book says it all. Like many of Simenon’s Maigret books, the plot is rather far-fetched, but the writing is great and Maigret’s methods and persistence make for interesting reading!