cover image The Murderer

The Murderer

Georges Simenon. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $15.95 (138pp) ISBN 978-0-15-163270-1

Not a mystery in the mode that has made Simenon universally famous, this is a classic psychological novel, issued in France in 1935 but like all other works of merit, timeless. The author's stringent control of his material deepens the reader's feelings for Dr. Hans Kuperus of Sneek, a small town in Friesland. After killing his wife and her lover, Herr Schutter, Kuperus escapes suspicion and the townspeople sympathize with the widower for a time. Then he begins behaving extravagantly, flaunting his affair with his housekeeper and scandalizing the crabbed, insular community in other ways. Finally, the doctor has no practice, no friends; he and the housekeeper are prisoners in his house. Faithfully translated by Sainsbury, the narrative hauntingly describes the disintegration of human beings, damned by weaknesses that Simenon compels the reader to recognize and pity. (October 8)