About Me

My photo
Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Premier by Georges Simenon (1958)

This summer and fall Kerrie Smith at her blog, Mysteries in Paradise, is hosting the Crime Fiction on a Euro Pass meme in which bloggers travel to a different weekly destination around Europe. This week's journey is to France.


42. - 602.) The Premier by Georges Simenon (1958) – Over 20 years have gone by since I read one of Simenon’s books. In the past I mainly read the books featuring his famed detective, Maigret. Participating in the 2011 Euro Pass meme encouraged me to look up his books at the library. I decided to read The Premier which is a stand alone novella at 125 pages.

Never named, the former French Premier is 82 and enduring a slow decline in his home on the cliffs of Normandy overlooking the ocean. His days proceed slowly through a rigid routine – up at 5:30, dealing with the few pieces of daily correspondence, meeting an occasional visitor, reading the newspapers, going for a short walk, eating carefully prescribed meals, getting a needle, sitting alone in his study thinking, laying in bed reflecting on his life.

While physically diminished the Premier’s mind is unimpaired. He is not haunted by death. He has lived a long life. He is bored by the life he is living in rural Normandy.
The Premier has cared little about relationships. Friends and family are almost inconsequential. His passion has been politics and he still pays close attention to turbulent French politics. He has been either a Minister or the Premier in 22 governments.

Having already written a 3 volume official set of memoirs he has sent shivers through the French establishment with rumours that he is now writing his real memoirs. He realizes someone within his household is quietly searching for documents and notes.

His estranged protégé, Monsieur Chalamont, is given the opportunity to become Premier. Within his papers the Premier has an explosive secret concerning Chalamont. What will the stern unyielding Premier do with the secret?

Simenon takes the reader deep inside the mind of a proud powerful man near the end of his existence. I thought of The Lion in Winter movie about Henry II. The aged leaders in book and movie are as fierce as ever.

An interesting article on Simenon at the age of 55 can be found at http://www.trussel.com/maig/life58.htm. I recommend reading the story after the book as it discusses The Premier and how it was written.
It is a subtle unconventional mystery in which Simenon skillfully demonstrates his insight into the human psyche. (Aug. 6/11)


  1. Bill - An excellent choice for the Europass stop in France. Simenon really did have a great deal of talent, and I think you're right that he had a gift for taking the reader "into the minds" of his characters.

  2. Thanks for highlighting this one! I'll have to add it to my TBR list. I thought about Simenon (decided not), but didn't even think about a non-Maigret story.

  3. I like these non-Maigret books by Simenon so much more. Simenon was so insightful about the dark side of the human mind and his portrayal of people inadvertantly enmeshed in criminal activity was masterful. I like especially THE FUGITIVE, THE HITCHHIKER and THE MAN WHO WATCHED THE TRAINS GO BY. I'm currently reading THE VENICE TRAIN by Simenon but wasn't done in time for this weekly meme so I did a load of other French books I've read over the years.

  4. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I had forgotten how good Simenon was at writing mysteries.

  5. Bev: Thanks for commenting. I was glad I took a look around the library and found the non-Maigret book.

  6. John: Thank you for making a comment. You have a tremendous knowledge of mystery fiction. Do you have a favourite among the Simenon books you mentioned in your comment?