A Crime In Holland by Simenon, GeorgesA Crime In Holland by Simenon, Georges

A Crime In Holland

bySimenon, GeorgesTranslated bySian Reynolds

Paperback | November 25, 2014

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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

Georges Simenon's thoughtful mystery set in a tranquil town on the Dutch coast

“‘Just take a look,’ Duclos said in an undertone, pointing to the scene all round them, the picture-book town, with everything in its place, like ornaments on the mantlepiece of a careful housewife. . . . ‘Everyone here earns his living. Everyone's more or less content. And above all, everyone keeps his instincts under control, because that's the rule here, and a necessity if people want to live in society.’”

When a French professor visiting the quiet Dutch coastal town of Delfzjil is accused of murder, Maigret is sent to investigate. The community appears happy to blame an unknown outsider, but there are people much closer to home who seem to know much more than they're letting on: Beetje, the dissatisfied daughter of a local farmer, Any van Elst, sister-in-law of the deceased, and a notorious local crook.
Georges Simenon (1903–1989) was born in Liège, Belgium. Best known in Britain as the author of the Maigret books, his prolific output of more than four hundred novels and short stories have made him a household name in continental Europe.Siân Reynolds has translated many books from French, including the Commissaire Adamsberg Mystery se...
Title:A Crime In HollandFormat:PaperbackDimensions:160 pages, 7.8 × 5.1 × 0.4 inPublished:November 25, 2014Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0141393491

ISBN - 13:9780141393490


Read from the Book

Georges Simenon A CRIME IN HOLLANDTranslated by Siân ReynoldsPENGUIN BOOKSPublished by the Penguin GroupPenguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, EnglandPenguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USAPenguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)Penguin Group (Australia), 707 Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3008, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, IndiaPenguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, Block D, Rosebank Office Park, 181 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parktown North, Gauteng 2193, South AfricaPenguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, Englandwww.penguin.comFirst published in French as Un Crime en Hollande by Fayard 1931This translation first published 2014Copyright 1931 by Georges Simenon LimitedTranslation © Siân Reynolds, 2014GEORGES SIMENON ® Simenon.tmMAIGRET ® Georges Simenon LimitedCover photograph (detail) © Harry Gruyaert/Magnum PhotosFront cover design by Alceu Chiesorin NunesAll rights reservedThe moral rights of the author and translator have been asserted ISBN: 978-0-698-15755-2 Title Page About the Author Copyright1. The Girl with the Cow2. The Baes’s Cap3. The Quayside Rats Club4. Logs on the Amsterdiep5. Jean Duclos’s Theories6. The Letters7. Lunch at the Van Hasselt8. Two Young Women9. The Reconstruction10. Someone Waiting for the Right Moment11. The Light in the Window EXTRA: Chapter 1 from The Grand Banks Café ABOUT THE AUTHORGeorges 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.PENGUIN CLASSICSA CRIME IN HOLLAND‘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’Guardian‘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’Observer‘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’Independent‘Compelling, remorseless, brilliant’John Gray‘Extraordinary masterpieces of the twentieth century’John Banville1. The Girl with the CowWhen Detective Chief Inspector Maigret arrived in Delfzijl, one afternoon in May, he had only the sketchiest notions about the case taking him to this small town located in the northernmost corner of Holland.A certain Jean Duclos, professor at the University of Nancy in eastern France, was on a lecture tour of the northern countries. At Delfzijl, he was the guest of a teacher at the Naval College, Conrad Popinga. But Popinga had been murdered, and while no one was formally charging the French professor, he was being requested not to leave the town and to remain answerable to the Dutch authorities.And that was all, or almost. Jean Duclos had contacted the University of Nancy, which had asked Police Headquarters in Paris to send someone to Delfzijl to investigate.The task had fallen to Maigret. It was more unofficial than official, and he had made it less official still by omitting to alert his Dutch colleagues on his arrival.On the initiative of Jean Duclos, he had received a rather confused report, followed by a list of people more or less closely involved in the case.This was the list which he consulted, shortly before arriving at Delfzijl station:Conrad Popinga (the victim), aged 42, former long-haul captain, latterly a lecturer at the Delfzijl Naval College. Married. No children. Had spoken English and German fluently and French quite well.Liesbeth Popinga, his wife, daughter of a high school headmaster in Amsterdam. A very cultured woman. Excellent knowledge of French.Any Van Elst, Liesbeth Popinga’s younger sister, visiting Delfzijl for a few weeks. Recently completed her doctorate in law. Aged 25. Understands French a little but speaks it badly.The Wienands family: they live in the villa next door to the Popingas. Carl Wienands teaches mathematics at the Naval College. Wife and two children. No knowledge of French.Beetje Liewens, aged 18, daughter of a farmer specializing in breeding pedigree cattle for export. Has stayed twice in Paris. Speaks perfect French.Not very eloquent. Names that suggested nothing, at least to Maigret as he arrived from Paris, after spending a night and a half the following day on the train.Delfzijl disconcerted him as soon as he reached it. At first light, he had travelled through the traditional Holland of tulips, and then through Amsterdam, which he already knew. The Drenthe, a heath-covered wasteland crisscrossed with canals, its horizons, stretching thirty kilometres into the distance, had surprised him.Here was a landscape that had little in common with picture-postcard Holland, and was a hundred times more Nordic in character than he had imagined.Just a little town: ten to fifteen streets at most, paved with handsome red bricks, laid down as regularly as tiles on a kitchen floor. Low-rise houses, also built of brick, and copiously decorated with woodwork, in bright cheerful colours.It looked like a toy town. All the more so since around this toy town ran a dyke, encircling it completely. Some of the stretches of water within the dyke could be closed off when the sea ran high, by means of heavy gates like those of a lock.Beyond lay the mouth of the Ems. The North Sea. A long strip of silver water. Cargo vessels unloading under the cranes on a quayside. Canals and an infinity of sailing vessels the size of barges and just as heavy, but built to withstand ocean swells.The sun was shining. The station master wore a smart orange cap, with which he unaffectedly greeted the unknown traveller.Opposite the station, a café. Maigret went inside and hardly dared sit down. Not only was it as highly polished as a bourgeois dining room, it had the same intimate feeling.A single table, with all the daily papers set out on brass rods. The proprietor, who was drinking beer with two customers, stood up to welcome the newcomer.‘Do you speak French?’ Maigret asked.A negative gesture. Slight embarrassment.‘Can you give me a beer … bier?’Once he was seated, he took the slip of paper from his pocket. The last name on the list was the one that his eyes lighted on. He showed it, pronouncing the name two or three times. ‘Liewens.’The three men began conferring together. Then one of them, a big fellow wearing a sailor’s cap, got up and beckoned to Maigret to follow him. Since the inspector had no Dutch currency yet, and offered to pay with a hundred-franc note, he was told repeatedly:‘Morgen! Morgen!’Tomorrow would do! He could just come back.It was homely. There was something very simple, naive even, about it. Without a word, his guide led Maigret through the streets of the little town. On their left was a shed full of ancient anchors, rigging, chains, buoys and compasses, spilling out on to the pavement. Further along, a sail-maker was working in his doorway.And the window of the confectioner’s shop displayed a bewildering choice of chocolates and elaborate sweetmeats.‘No speak English?’Maigret shook his head.‘Deutsch?’Same reply, and the man resigned himself to silence. At the end of one street, they were already in the countryside: green fields, a canal in which floating logs from Scandinavia took up almost the whole width, ready to be hauled through Holland.At some distance appeared a large roof of varnished tiles.‘Liewens … Dag, mijnheer!’And Maigret went on, alone, after vainly trying to thank this man who, without knowing him from Adam, had walked with him for a quarter of an hour to do him a favour.The sky was clear, the air of astonishing limpidity. The inspector walked past a timber yard where planks of oak, mahogany and teak were stacked in piles as tall as houses.A boat was moored alongside. Some children were playing. Then came a kilometre with no outstanding features. Floating tree trunks covered the surface of the canal, all the way. White fences surrounded fields dotted with magnificent cows.Another clash between reality and his preconceived ideas. The word ‘farm’ for Maigret conjured up a thatched roof, a dunghill, a bustle of barnyard fowls.And he found himself facing a fine newly built structure, surrounded by a garden full of flowers. Moored in the canal in front of the house was an elegant mahogany skiff. And propped against the gate, a lady’s bicycle, gleaming with nickel.He looked in vain for a bell. He called, without getting any reply. A dog came and rubbed against his legs.To the left of the house ran a long low building with regularly spaced windows but no curtains, which could have been an ordinary shed but for the quality of the materials and especially its bright fresh paintwork.A sound of lowing came from that direction, and Maigret went on, round the flowerbeds, to find himself in front of a wide open door.The building was a cowshed, but a cowshed as immaculate as a dwelling. Red brick everywhere, giving a warm, almost sumptuous luminosity to the atmosphere. Runnels for water to run off. A mechanical system for distributing feed to the mangers, and a pulley behind each stall, whose purpose Maigret discovered only later: to lift up the tails of the cows during milking so that the milk wouldn’t be contaminated.The interior was in semi-darkness. The cattle were all outside, except for one cow lying on its side in the first stall.And a girl in her late teens was approaching the visitor, speaking to him at first in Dutch.‘Mademoiselle Liewens?’‘Yes. You’re French?’As she spoke, she kept her eyes on the cow. She had an ironic smile which Maigret did not at first understand.Here again, his preconceived ideas were turning out to be wrong. Beetje Liewens was wearing black rubber boots, which gave her the look of a stable-girl. Her green silk dress was almost entirely covered up by a white overall.A rosy face, too rosy perhaps. A healthy, happy smile, but one lacking any subtlety. Large china-blue eyes. Red-gold hair.She had to search to find her first words in French, which she spoke with a strong accent. But she quickly re-acquainted herself with the language.‘Did you want to speak to my father?’‘To you.’She almost pouted.‘Excuse me, please. My father has gone to Groningen. He won’t be back until later. The two farmhands are on the canal, unloading coal. The maidservant is out shopping. And this cow has picked this moment to start calving! We weren’t expecting it. And I’m all on my own.’She was leaning against a winch, which she had prepared in case the birth needed assistance. She was smiling broadly.It was sunny outside. Her boots shone as if polished. She had plump pink hands with well-kept nails.‘It’s about Conrad Popinga that I …’But she gave a start. The cow had tried to stand up with a painful movement and had fallen back again.‘Look out! Can you give me a hand?’She picked up the rubber gloves lying ready for duty.And that was how Maigret began his investigation by helping bring a pure-bred Friesian calf into the world, in the company of a girl whose confident movements revealed her physical training.Half an hour later, with the newborn calf already nuzzling its mother’s udder, Maigret was stooping alongside Beetje, soaping his hands up to the elbow under a brass tap.‘Is it the first time you’ve done anything like this?’ she asked with a smile.‘Yes, the first time …’

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Georges Simenon:“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 “These Maigret books are as timeless as Paris itself.” —The Washington Post “Maigret ranks with Holmes and Poirot in the pantheon of fictional detective immortals.” —People “I love reading Simenon. He makes me think of Chekhov.” —William Faulkner “The greatest of all, the most genuine novelist we have had in literature.” —André Gide “A supreme writer . . . Unforgettable vividness.” —The Independent (London) “Superb . . . The most addictive of writers . . . A unique teller of tales.” —The Observer (London) “Compelling, remorseless, brilliant.” —John Gray “A truly wonderful writer . . . Marvelously readable—lucid, simple, absolutely in tune with the world he creates.” —Muriel Spark “A novelist who entered his fictional world as if he were a part of it.”lle —Peter Ackroyd “Extraordinary masterpieces of the twentieth century.” —John Banville