September 10, 2019

Cocktail Talk: Maigret and the Informer

https://justseeds.org/wp-content/uploads/Simenon_MaigretInformer.jpgI 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 13, 2019

Cocktail Talk: The Two-Penny Bar, Part II

Image result for the two-penny barIf 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.
–George Simenon, The Two-Penny Bar
August 6, 2019

Cocktail Talk: The Two-Penny Bar

Image result for the two-penny barWell, 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

Cocktail Talk: Maigret in Retirement

Paperback A Maigret Christmas BookAnother 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

April 16, 2019

Cocktail Talk: Maigret and the Minister

Image result for maigret and the ministerMy love of, and diving into, the George Simenon Maigret canon has been well documented here on the Spiked Punch, with loads of Simenon Cocktail Talks that you should go back and read and love. This one here, the newest as I write this at least, cause I’m sure they’ll be more, sees our man Maigret drawn into the wacky world of Parisian (and France, in general) politics, which he doesn’t always enjoy, but which it’s fun to see him navigate and he tried to unravel a corruption case. As usual, he and his team have an assortment of drinks along the way, starting with some sloe gin, but leaning heaviest I believe into Pernod.

And Maigret felt slightly guilty vis-à-vis his two colleagues. Lapointe too must have realized by now what it was all about.
“A beer?” suggested Maigret.
“No. A Pernod.”
And that too was out of character for Lucas. They waited for the drinks to be served, and then continued in hushed tones.

–George Simenon, Maigret and the Minister

December 25, 2018

Cocktail Talk: Lock 14

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/5103MKMiy%2BL._SX345_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgAnother choice read and Cocktail Talk from George Simenon and my pal (well, it almost feels like it now – check out the past Maigret Cocktail Talks) Inspector Maigret. This read, Lock 14, that is, takes place as you might expect at a lock, and not only is it a regular atmospheric mighty Maigret mystery, but it’s also an interesting look into how commerce and people operated along the lock series and system at the time (for example, I had no idea how many barges were pulled along by horses that were kept on board, with their “carter” who led them and took care of them), and the bars that sprung up alongside the locks. The below is a good little look into one.

The lockkeeper accompanied his relations as far as the main road to Epernay, which crossed the canal two miles from the lock.

He saw nothing unusual. As he was passing the Café la Marine on his way back, he looked inside and was hailed by a pilot.

“Come and have a drop! You’re soaking wet . . .”

He had a rum, still standing. Two carters got to their feet, sluggish with red wine, their eyes shining, and made for the stable adjoining the café, where they slept on the straw next to their horses.

They were not exactly drunk. But they had had enough wine to send them into a heavy sleep.

–George Simenon, Lock 14

May 1, 2018

Cocktail Talk: Maigret and the Madwoman

Image result for maigret and the madwomanWell, my Maigret completism still has a long ways to go, but I made another little dent recently, picking up four volumes which I hadn’t yet read at a book sale. Which probably means more Maigret Cocktail Talk posts, lucky you, because he does like a drink (or two, even when his doctor friend warns him off the sauce), as he wanders around Paris and France, solving murders and more (though usually there’s a murder). The first of the new batch that I read was Maigret and the Madwoman, and it’s typically great, and with a sad-but-underlying, oh, sweet-worldweary-ness (can that even make sense? It felt right when typing) that Simenon delivers via Maigret like no other. Read it, on a spring day at dusk, and you’ll get what I mean. Also, you’ll get this quote – perhaps the only Tom Collins quote in a Maigret book? I feel I’ve seen another, but can’t recall perfectly.

The butler, in a white jacket, had followed them out and stood, a watchful figure, awaiting orders.
“What would you like to drink? May I suggest a Tom Collins? I know of nothing more refreshing at this time of day.”
Maigret and Marella indicated their approval.
“Two Tom Collinses, Georges, and the usual for me.”

–George Simenon, Maigret and the Madwoman

August 1, 2017

Cocktail Talk: Pietr the Latvian, Part II

http://images.gr-assets.com/books/1372681799l/18114335.jpgNot too long ago (and only the briefest of moments in the grand scheme of things), I had a Cocktail Talk post up from the very first Inspector Maigret book by George Simenon, Pietr the Latvian. I’ve had a number of Maigret Cocktail Talks, btw. Foolish as I was way back in those days, I thought I’d only need one post from the book. But, now that I am older and wiser, I realize that two are needed, no demanded. Really, this second Cocktail Talk from our (if we read the books in order, which I did not, but for the sake of things, let’s pretend) first sampling of the stoic French Inspector, is an ideal companion to the first, so it’d be a shame not to quote it here:

Maigret had ordered a vermouth. He looked even taller and wider than ever in the confined space of the bar. He didn’t take his eyes off the Latvian.

He was having something like double vision. Just as had happened to him in the hotel lobby, he could see one image superimposed on another: Behind the current scene, he had a vision of the squalid bar in Fecamp. Pietr was going double. Maigret could see him in his cinnamon suite and in his worn-out raincoat at the same time.

“I’m telling you I’d rather do that than get beaten up!” one of the builders exclaimed, banging his glass down on the counter.

Pietr was now on his third glass of green liquid. Maigret could smell the aniseed in it.

–George Simenon, Pietr the Latvian

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