cover image The Outlaw

The Outlaw

Georges Simenon. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $15.95 (153pp) ISBN 978-0-15-170509-2

Simenon's acute sensitivity to losers permeates this novel, in spite of a somewhat elliptical and incompatible translation of the 1941 French edition. The outlaw is Stan, who has fled persecution in his native Poland and is now penniless in Paris with his waiflike girlfriend Nuschi. Leaving her one night, he's beaten up by a man he tries to rob, the usual result of his grandiose plans. In despair, Stan tries to sell information on ""the Polish gang,'' thieves and murderers he had been in league with, but the police refuse to buy. Nuschi has been found destitute and taken into the home of a couple; Stan jeopardizes the girl's sanctuary by sneaking into the house to eat and sleep. Meantime, although the gang terrifies him, Stan goes back to join their next attack, which means killing an entire fmaily for their possessions. The reader's nerves are tested by the consequences of events set afoot by a craven, self-absorbed, inept criminal. It's a sign of Simenon's mastery that he makes Stan pitiable as well as contemptible. (April 28)