cover image The Engagement

The Engagement

Georges Simenon, , trans. from the French by Anna Moschovakis. . New York Review Books, $12.95 (135pp) ISBN 978-1-59017-228-5

First published in 1933, this new English translation of a short, bleak psychological drama from Simenon (1903–1989), creator of Inspector Maigret (Lock 14 , etc.), dispassionately describes the fate of the odd Mr. Hire, a reclusive middle-aged man whose life of dull routine begins an inevitable slide into disaster when a prostitute is brutally murdered near his apartment in a Paris suburb. Guilty only of a slightly disreputable occupation, a voyeuristic fascination and an unusual physical appearance, Hire inadvertently seals his fate with mundane, unremarkable observations and suggestions. His concierge brings him to the attention of the police. Though Hire is aware of the net being spread for him and tries to escape it, eventually, like a swimmer struggling against an undertow, he's gradually exhausted and sucked further away from the safety of the shore. This is a quietly compelling story with no hero, no villain and no justice—just the inevitability of fate. (Mar.)