by Bruce TierneyDecember, 2003
A French twist on holiday crimes
Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret is one of the icons of suspense fiction, in a league with Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary Sherlock Holmes. This year, just in time for the holiday season, Harcourt is releasing Maigret's Christmas, a delightful collection of short stories featuring the intrepid inspector and an assemblage of youthful heroes. In several of the stories, the young protagonists assist Maigret in his investigations, bringing out a paternal component in the childless detective. One tale involves a girl who insists that Father Christmas has come to visit her in the night; she is not usually given to such flights of fancy, and Inspector Maigret determines to get to the bottom of the mystery. All of these stories have been published before in mystery magazines and previous compilations. Thematically, though, this is a tight collection, as quaint and charming as a black-and-white film, yet timeless in terms of story lines, craftsmanship and dialogue.