September 10, 2019
I know, I know, I’ve had a lot of Maigret Cocktail Talks, but when I put up a good boozy quote in The Silent Witness Cocktail Talk recently, I realized I had to have one from Maigret and the Informer, too. See, if you missed that recent Cocktail Talking, I picked up both of these in one of those books-that-contain-two-books, which used to be a thing, and which I think is fun. Often, it was two books by the same author, but sometimes, you see two different authors, sharing the same genre. Here, it worked wonderfully, with the dry, stoic (but funny, in his way) French Inspector Maigret back-to-back with an American PI, Jack Fenner, also a little dry and stoic (and funny in his way). Both crime-solvers like a drink, too. This George Simenon book is an good one (most are!), with a restaurateur killed, young gangsters, a trip to the south of France, an informer on the run, a quirky cop, a cheating wife – all you could want, really! Plus, it all starts with a dinner at the Maigret house (they have Doctor Pardon and his wife over for dinner once a month if you were wondering), one I would have liked to have been at.
The women would take advantage of the occasion to put on a great spread and to exchange recipes, while the men would gossip idly, drinking Alsatian gin or raspberry brandy.
The dinner had been particularly successful. Madame Maigret had made a guinea-hen pie and the superintendent had brought out of his cellar one of the last bottles of an old Chateauneuf de Pape he had once bought a case of, marked down, when he was in Rue Drouot.
The wine was exceptionally good, and the two men hadn’t left a drop. How many liqueur glasses of brandy had they had afterwards? At any rate, suddenly awakened at two o’clock in the morning, Maigret did not feel his best.
— George Simenon, Maigret and the Informer
August 20, 2019
It’s been many a moon (and many a year, really) since I first mentioned the book Suddenly a Corpse, published originally way back in 1949, with my copy from 1950. It features dashing, drinking, dame-loving, crime-solving lawyer Scott Jordan (Masur wrote a series of books with Mr. Jordan), doing all of the above, all starting when a large man shows up at his door – and then dies instantly. It’s a good rollicking read, and if you can find a copy in your local pulp booksellers, then pick it up. I recently re-read it, and realized that while I’d had a Cocktail Talk from it (be sure to read Suddenly a Corpse Part I, as it has one of my favorite lines), that really, it deserved two. Cause I really like the below quote about school, or a school at least.
I hesitated and said, “Give me a little time to think it over. Maybe we can do something for you.”
Her mouth twisted contemptuously. “Listen, mister, the finishing school I graduated from taught me more than how to sling a fancy highball. I don’t trust you. When a lawyer asks for time he’s thinking up ways to trick somebody.
–Harold Q. Masur, Suddenly a Corpse
August 13, 2019
If you missed The Two-Penny Bar Part I
, be sure to catch up on your brandy – and reading – and for that matter, don’t miss a one of the many mighty Maigret Cocktail Talks
, cause they are full of boozy jolly-ness, and will point you to many a classic read by George Simenon. This book (as it says on the back) that goes into the “sleazy underbelly of respectable Parisian life,” is too good, too, for just one Cocktail Talk post, especially because this second one has the good Inspector Maigret a little over-indulged on one of his favorite tipples – but this book does center around a bar!
“What are you drinking?” he heard a voice ask. “A large Pernod?”
The very word was enough to remind him of the week gone by, the Sunday get-togethers of the Morsang crowd, the whole disagreeable case.
“A beer,” he replied.
“At this hour?”
The well-meaning waiter who had offered him the aperitif was taken aback at the force of Maigret’s response.
August 6, 2019
Well, I’ve now had a fair amount (a large amount, maybe? But all such good stuff I’m glad I haven’t skipped a one) of Maigret Cocktail Talks
, and I’m hoping you haven’t missed a one. Because George Simenon’s Parisian Inspector is such an indelible character in mystery literary – and literature in total – that they tend to be un-missable, and lots of boozy fun. The book The Two-Penny Bar
as you might expect takes our stoic Inspector to a bar! But how he gets there – via a confidence given by a criminal on death row – and how the mystery around a murder unfolds, and how Maigret’s inescapable solidity and persistence takes center stage, all set this one apart. As does the below quote, which sets up some of the odd-individual-nature of this read:
Corks were popping.
“Come and have a brandy!” said James. “I guess you aren’t a dancer.”
What an odd fellow! He had already drunk enough to lay out four or five normal men, but he wasn’t really drunk. He just slouched around, looking sour, not joining in. He took Maigret back into the house. He sat in the landlord’s high-backed armchair.
–George Simenon, The Two-Penny Bar
July 2, 2019
Another from our series of Maigret Cocktail Talk
posts featuring famous stoic, tall, Parisian Inspector Maigret, created by the celebrated author Georges Simenon, who wrote said Inspector as one who is not shy about having a sip of something boozy here and there. Even when he’s in retirement and not an Inspector (well, really, he’ll always be the tops to his past police pals, and the world at large, which is how he gets involved in this particular post-police case, which a matriarch of a family brings him in to look over a supposed suicide — it’s a sort-of extra long story, which I read in the Maigret’s Christmas
collection) at all. Also, he still has some drinks. Including some kümmel with the landlady of a very down-in-the-mouth hotel he is staying at.
“I wouldn’t mind a glass of something,” he had said, sitting down or rather straddling a chair beside her. “What about you Madame Jeanne. What will you take?”
“Nothing, Monsieur. I’d better not drink. Everything upsets me.”
“A tiny drop of liquor?”
“Well, just to keep you company … some kümmel, then. Will you help yourself? The bottles are on the shelf. My legs are so terribly swollen this evening.
Kümmel was her tipple then. And he, too, had drunk kümmel out of politeness. It had left him still feeling queasy. He vowed never to touch a drop of kümmel again in his life.
— Georges Simenon, Maigret in Retirement
June 4, 2019
Okay, I just had to have this quote as a Cocktail Talk, even though it doesn’t technically have booze in it, but it’s such a crazy drink concoction that I couldn’t resist! If you missed the Night Squad Part I post, or the Nightfall one (which started our now trio of posts from the David Goodis collection of three books put out from Stark House), then I strongly suggest you take a little time and go back and read them to catch up a bit. Okay? Now, back? Then let me introduce you to the California Clouds.
“But Rafer’s your man. Why would he tell you a thing like that?”
“He was high,” Nellie said. “He was forty thousand feet up. On that mixture he drinks. Calls it California Clouds. Mixes it himself. A bottle of some cola drink, six aspirin tablets, two tablespoons of snuff. Puts it all together in a bowl and sips it from the spoon. In no time at all he’s up there. California Clouds.”
–David Goodis, Night Squad
May 28, 2019
I’m continuing along with a little David Goodis, following our stop at Nightfall and peach cordials, all from the David Goodis Start House Noir Classics collection of three books from this prince of the bleak, breathtaking, and sometimes nearly too dark – though Night Squad doesn’t end quite in that manner, though it ain’t exactly all light and flowers, either. There’s an ex-cop gone bad and wondering about going good again, a really bad part of town run by a bad boss who really likes rowing (really!), a bar and some drunks, another bad guy trying to take over, and, well, lots of other stuff, including the below talk on booze and prices and goathead, and I don’t know what that means. Maybe you do? Maybe reading all the past David Goodis Cocktail Talks will help?
The deal is, Jim, there’s an acute shortage or funds. So let’s take whiskey, just as an instance. A legitimate bottle, a fifth, it’s four dollars and up. The contraband booze, the cooked corn and goathead, you get it for a dollar a pint. Of course sometimes it’s poison, but those times are very seldom. Maybe one batch out of five thousand, and you’ll admit that’s a tiny percentage. Chances are, when you drink the homemade juice you won’t be sick the next day. I’ve never had a hangover from the corn or the goat, and that’s more than I can say for some well-known legal brands.
–David Goodis, Night Squad
May 21, 2019
I recently scored another of the Stark House Noir Classics collections (which have been featured in various Cocktail Talks back in various days), this one a trio of books by the often dark, deep, bleak, noir and pulp (though either in some ways does him a little disservice) master David Goodis! Including Nightfall, which is a twisty-and-turn-y number, a crime novel, a who-can-you-trust book, and a “this will never end well” book that actually ends well. All following the mostly main character who’s an artist and an ex-college-football player, and who ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. And really, the below isn’t the most Cocktail Talk-y of all Cocktail Talks, but I love the idea of a time when people just sorta naturally had peach cordials after a big meal. Don’t miss past Goodis Cocktail Talk posts, either
The food came and they ate silently. Every now and then he lifted his eyes and watched her for a moment or so. He liked the way she ate. A quiet sort of gusto. She took her time and yet she didn’t waste any time. Her table etiquette was an easy, relaxed thing that made it a pleasure to sit her with her. After the food, Vanning ordered peach cordials. They sipped the cordials and smiled at each other.
–David Goodis, Nightfall