La Tête d’un homme

ISBN: 2266001612
ISBN 13: 9782266001618
By: Georges Simenon

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About this book

A rich American widow and her maid have been stabbed to death in a brutal attack. All the evidence points to Joseph, a young drifter, and he is soon arrested. But what is his motive? Or is he just a pawn in a wider conspiracy?Inspector Maigret believes the police have the wrong man and lets him escape from prison to prove his innocence. perhaps, with Joseph on the loose, the real murderer will surface.A deadly game of cross and double-cross has begun...

Reader's Thoughts

Jason Reeser

The first Maigret book I've read, and it was excellent. The atmosphere, the characters, the Paris backdrop, all of it just perfect. The mystery itself was great. As other people have said, a real mix of the Chandler-like noir with Sherlock Holmes. I wasn't sure what that meant when I started it, but it is the perfect description. I want to read more of Simenon. I wish there was a collection for Kindle. I'll have to save my money.


Again, selected for my travels to Belgium, The Netherlands and Prague, I had no idea about the author or the book --ended up thoroughly enjoying it. The murder mystery had enough twists (won't give any away I promise) to keep you guessing and not so outlandish as to be unbelievable. Reminded me of Crime and Punishment the way the police inspector kept coming back to his suspect putting that subtle psychological pressure on him.


I have recently become addicted to Simenon's 'Maigret' novels. This is the fourth I have read so far and it's brilliant. The atmosphere, the pacing, the plotting: everything is tremendous! I have already acquired two more 'Maigret' novels and have started reading one of them...

Brian Calandra

The back cover copy calls Simenon a giant of 20th Century literature, which would give my dear friend Mike Penncavage a place in the pantheon as well. This book has precisely ONE idea - the criminal mind consists of the need to commit crimes and to confess to them - which is barely explored through the use of a one-dimensional Mike Hammer meets Hercule Poirot sleuth-cum-take-no-bullshit PI. A lark, and nothing more. Would it kill to add some subtext or depth beyond the follow-through on the premise? And don't all-knowing detectives do more than smoke cigarettes and grunt monosyllabically to show how tough they are?


Simenon is a master of crime fiction. Most of his books are set in Paris and feature Inspector Maigret. In this novel, the Inspector has a strong feeling that the wrong man is sitting on death row in a Parisian prison. He set out to prove the man's innocence in a very unusual way: he (working with the authorities) arranges for the man to 'escape' just before he to hang for the crime of murder. It becomes a battle of wits between the pipe smoking Inspector and a rich American, his wife and a menacing red-haired bar regular who seems to know the whole story behind the murder. I recommend this book for mystery fans who appreciate a genuine story-teller and mystery writer.


In this outing, we see Maigret put his job on the line. He is convinced that a convicted killer is not guilty of the crime, even though he is the one who put him behind bars. Unraveling the truth takes some time (and a lot of police trailing). The ending reveals why it was so difficult to ascertain the truth.

Ma'lis Wendt

This classic Simenon was the perfect read for a Paris vacation. The Inspector suspects that he has arrested the wrong man and so engineers his escape in order to locate his accomplices. Lots of Paris atmosphere and steady police work.

Elijah Kinch Spector

Wait, is that title symbolic or did they actually still use the guillotine in 1931? Someone mentions it, but I didn't know if they were being flowery or not...Anyway, this was my introduction to Simenon and his extremely famous (in much of the world) Maigret character, and it was a pretty unique experience. Would it seem as unique if I'd read a few more of the seventy-plus books written about the character? Probably not, but to see where detective fiction was going in France in a time as pivotal for the genre as 1931 is fascinating, and Maigret, or at least this book, seems to sit in a spot somewhere between the eccentric crimes and whodunits that were Doyle's legacy, and the hardboiled private eyes that were starting to come out of California.This definitely isn't a whodunit, as it's pretty easy to tell who the murderer is relatively early on, it's more of a "howdunit," if you will. We begin to figure out who was involved, and what may have happened, but what we really need our hero to tell us is how it all came about, who did what, and why. On top of that, while the crime does contain some of the strange criminal showboating of some Sherlock Holmes stories, those elements aren't made clear until the end, and they don't change the fact that the murder itself is extremely brutal, which lends itself more toward the hardboiled school.Also leaning toward what was going on in America at the time, is Maigret himself, although really he's entirely his own thing. Though smart, and big, and gruff, Maigret's greatest virtue as a crime-solver seems to be patience. It strikes me as more realistic than most that our hero largely figures things out by waiting and following and waiting and following and glaring and keeping silent until something cracks. In fact, the story begins with the singular idea that our hero has arrested the wrong man, and so he helps said wrong man escape rather than let him be executed, so that he can make up for an earlier quick judgment and take more time to really figure it all out. When asked whether his career and reputation are worth some nobody, Maigret always answers by asking what a man's head is worth. This is part of what makes the character great: he actually fucking cares. It isn't just he solves the crime and the villain is led off to be executed after the book is over, Maigret thinks about the fact that lives are in his hands and risks everything to make sure he's making the right decision. And in the end, we're even shown the murderer's execution, and Maigret's reaction, and that's what makes him seem stronger than a normal series character. I'll have to read more to see if that's kept up.


Al solito: prosa piacevole, intreccio intrigante, e nelle ultime trenta pagine l'antipaticissimo deus ex machina che rovina tutto il divertimento risolvendo la vicenda off-screen. E va be'.

Paul Jellinek

I guess I'm just a sucker for these darkly comic and very French Inspector Maigret books--and this one is no exception. Simenon was one hugely popular writer who actually deserved to be.


Highly enjoyable. Always like a bit of the cat and mouse game between detective and criminal.


Annoying translation - too, many, commas.

Francesca Tessari

La presenza di Maigret �� determinante come sempre: solo con la sua mole terrorizza i criminali, ma erano altri tempi e probabilmente questo genere non fa per me.

Owain Lewis

This is the first Simenon I've read so I have no idea how it compares to the other 50+ of the Maigret books - Penguin thought it good enough to publish it as a modern classic so I'm guessing it is seen as an important work with in the detective fiction genre - but I found it a pretty solid piece of work. A little too straight forward for my taste in that it's all about catching the killer - I much prefer it when things start to meander a bit - but as it's set in 1920s Paris, it's misty streets, high class cocktail bars and rundown riverside taverns beautifully invoked by someone who lived during the time, I couldn't help but be drawn in. Great title too, one whose meaning changes as you read.


Perhaps I just wasn't in the right frame of mind for a mystery, but I found this book to be terribly dull. It was rather obvious who was behind the murder, but it didn't matter because I didn't care. Thank goodness this was only 150 pages long!

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