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

July 11, 2017

Cocktail Talk: Pietr the Latvian

http://images.gr-assets.com/books/1372681799l/18114335.jpgHey, it’s time for another Cocktail Talk featuring George Simenon’s legendary French detective Maigret, the stoic, large, over-coated, café-visiting crime solver. If you haven’t yet, check out past Maigret Cocktail Talks. This particular one, though, is from the very first of his books, which I was super excited to find in a little bookstore in Edmunds, WA. Sometimes the world lines up in great ways. And sometimes you have to drink an absinthe substitute with guttersnips in a dive bar.

Overall the man fitted a type that Maigret knew well: the migrant low-lifer of Eastern European origin who slept in squalid lodging houses and sometimes in railway stations. A type not often seen outside Paris, but accustomed to travelling in third-class carriages when not riding the footboards or hopping freight trains.

He got proof of his insight a few minutes later. Fécamp doesn’t have any genuine low dives, but behind the harbour there are two or three squalid bars favoured by dockhands and seamen. Ten metres before these places there’s a regular café kept clean and bright. The man in the trench coat walked right past it and straight into the least prepossessing of the bars where he put his elbow on the counter in a way that Maigret saw right through.

It was the straightforwardly vulgar body-language of a guttersnipe. Even if he’d tried, Maigret couldn’t have imitated it. The inspector followed the man into the bar. He’d ordered an absinthe substitute and was just standing there, wordless, with a blank stare on his face. He didn’t register Maigret’s presence, though the inspector was now right next to him.

–George Simenon, Pietr the Latvian

May 23, 2017

Cocktail Talk: Maigret and the Lazy Burglar, Part III

maigretWelcome to the final entry strolling through Paris drinks had in this particular Maigret story (be sure to read Part I and Part II so as not to miss anything, and for that matter, don’t miss all the Maigret Cocktail Talks, and if you want to know even more about his drinking, check out this study of Maigret drinks). This takes place near the end of the case, and finally Maigret himself is getting a drink (well, he may have had a few more – I couldn’t write out the whole book here!), with one of his police compadres.

 

“Did you find her?” asked the waiter.

“Yes.”

“Nice, isn’t she? What will you have?”

“A hot grog for me.”

“The same for me.”

“Two grogs, two!”

“This afternoon, when you’ve had some sleep, you’ll be writing your report.”

 

— George Simenon, Maigret and the Lazy Burglar

May 16, 2017

Cocktail Talk: Maigret and the Lazy Burglar, Part II

maigretIf you missed our first bout of May Maigret Cocktail Talking, and want to learn more about the burglaring, then by all means, please go read Part I. I’ll wait.

Back? Awesome! Let’s get into our second quote, which is taking place in a small bistro, with Maigret questioning the publican (or, here, I suppose, bisto-lican), who relates a story of said lazy burglar and his desire for . . . well, just read it, why dontcha.

 

“I was busy with the coffee percolator. I didn’t hear any footsteps. And when I turned round, there he was, leaning on the bar. It gave me quite a turn.”

“That’s why you remembered it?”

“And for another reason, because he asked me if I had any real Kirsch, not the fancy stuff. . . We don’t get too many orders for that. I took a bottle from the back row – that one there, with the German words on the label – and he seemed pleased. He said:

“‘That’s the real thing.’”

“He took the time to warm the glass in his hand, and drank slowly, looking at the clock. I realized he was wondering whether to ask for another, and when I held out the bottle he didn’t say no.”

 

— George Simenon, Maigret and the Lazy Burglar

May 9, 2017

Cocktail Talk: Maigret and the Lazy Burglar, Part I

maigretIt’s May, which means this is the perfect time for some Maigret-based Cocktail Talks (because both words start with M – seems like a great reason to me). If for some absolutely insane reason you don’t know who Maigret is, well, friend, you’re in for a treat. He’s the Parisian Police Inspector who stars in many, many mysteries written by the prolific George Simenon. I’ve read a fair amount of Maigret stories and novels, and yet I feel there are still a whole bunch yet to discover – I’m in for treats, too! This particular book revolves around some Paris police and judiciary intrigues, a very proficient and friendly burglar found dead early in the morning, and a series of hold-ups. As well as a series of drinks – Maigret being fond of a number of liquor’d libations (read more about it all here). There’s enough good Cocktail Talk-ing in this tale that I thinks I’m going to have to have multiple quotes, starting with this one (where, funny enough, Maigret isn’t drinking at all):

 

“Haven’t you anything to drink?”

“You’re thirsty?”

“No. It’s for you. I’d like you to take a nip of something.”

He remembered she was fond of her glass, and at this, sure enough, she went to the dining-room sideboard and brought out a bottle of plum brandy.

Even at such a moment as this, she could resist cheating a bit.

“I was keeping it for my son . . . He sometimes took a drop after dinner.”

 

— George Simenon, Maigret and the Lazy Burglar

 

August 9, 2016

Cocktail Talk: The Grand Banks Café

grand-banks-cafeI’ve had a few Cocktail Talk posts from George Simenon featuring his Parisian detective Inspector Maigret. Not too surprising, as Maigret’s been known to have a drink (like all good detectives, or most), with a number of favorites. I could tell you about all of them, but really, there’s already a whole site that does it so much better, called Maigret’s Drinks. It breaks them out, explains, has tons of quotes, even some tables and such, all very educational and done right. I don’t know Simenon or the Inspector nearly as well, but recently was reading The Grand Bakes Café, which takes place by the sea instead of the city, and revolves around the death of a ship’s Captain. Lots of seaside folks figure in the story, and it takes some twists and turns, and spends a fair amount of time in a café/bar. Also, it has the below quote, which I thought would fit nicely here:

‘What are you having?’
‘Not hot chocolate, that’s for sure. A kümmel.’
What was that if not a declaration of war? When she mentioned chocolate, she was staring at Marie Leonnec’s cup. Maigret saw the girl flinch.

— George Simenon, The Grand Banks Café

February 3, 2015

Cocktail Talk: A Man’s Head

a-mans-headNot too long ago I had my first George Simenon Cocktail Talk post, and in that very post mentioned that I thought I’d probably have more – and I was right! I’ve read a few more Inspector Maigret books since then, most recently A Man’s Head. And it was a good yarn indeed, fast-paced, intriguing, nicely mysterious, and really tightly plotted. Everything you’d want (if what you want is a worthy book, that is). Also, a fair amount of the action takes place in bars, which I’m all for, as you might guess. The main bar is the American bar in the Cupole, where Maigret makes a sorta rare foray into cocktails.

He heard someone call out.‘A Manhattan.’

And he said: ‘The same for me.’

He was not himself of the cocktail generation. Beer was more in his line. The barman pushed a dish of olives toward him, but he did not touch them.

A Man’s Head, George Simenon

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November 25, 2014

Cocktail Talk: My Friend Maigret

my-friend-maigretEarlier this month, I admitted to having only a tenuous relationship (until recently) with Edmund Crispin and his fictional English detective Gervase Fen. Since I’m in the admitting mood (hah, no, I’m not admitting that, yet), I should also say that until recently I hadn’t read any books featuring an even more famous detective, Inspector Maigret of the Paris PD, as written by George Simenon in 74 novels and 28 short stories. Whoa! I don’t even have the cat vs. dog excuse in this case. But recently I picked up three Maigret novels to see what I was missing, and completely dug them – a bit dark, a bit French, a bit rainy for some reason, but full of murder, mysteriousness, and a lot of food and drink. They do take place in France, after all. And I can’t wait to read more, especially when they contain Cocktail Talk like the below:

He had drunk only one glass of Champagne. Then rest of time he had drunk mostly wine, then, God knows why, anisette.

 

Who had ordered anisette? Oh yes, it was the dentist. A retired dentist to be precise, whose name escaped him. Another phenomenon. There was nothing but phenomenon on the island.

My Friend Maigret, George Simenon

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