cover image The Suspect

The Suspect

Georges Simenon. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $17.95 (152pp) ISBN 978-0-15-137057-3

First published in France in 1938, this psychological thriller is eerily timely. Focusing on the activities of a terrorist group, Simenon paints a chilling portrait of revolutionary fervor and fanaticism gone awry. Pierre Chave is an idealistic anarchist exiled from France in the 1930s. Now living in Brussels and working at a theater, he spends his free time communicating with his comrades back in Paris, especially adoring Rob, to whom Chave acts as mentor. But the group has begun to follow charismatic and brutal K., who advocates violence. When Chave hears of their plan to bomb a factory, with Rob assigned to carry out the deed, he risks his peaceful existence and travels to Paris, leaving behind his wife and sick son. His every move is watched by French police, and the tension mounts. When Chave finally locates his former friends, he learns that K. has convinced them that Chave is their enemy. A disillusioned Chave takes action. With characteristic brevity, Simenon skillfully builds tension to the swiftly accomplished climax, carrying the reader with Chave through his Paris adventures and back to Belgium. (Sept.)