La Tete d’un Homme

ISBN: 2253142964
ISBN 13: 9782253142966
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


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.


Georges Simenon's detective creation, Jules Maigret, brings his unique style to investigating crimes


Another strong entry in Simenon's Maigret series. I like how Simenon structured the start of the story, pushing us into a narrative that has been running for quite some time.


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.


this is the first novel i've read by georges simenon period, and the first i've read in his detective series featuring inspector maigret. having just read my first martin beck novel, i was much struck by the similarities between the two heroes: both have a determined, patient, and inexorable approach to the crimes in question though maigret, being french, seems to give a bit more of his inner turmoil away, and in general seems more loved and respected by his peers. and really, one feels how french this novel is: some turns of phrase in english seemed to reverberate with the language they've been translated from; i could hear the french behind them, even those words that aren't devoted to the streets and cafes of paris and the surrounding countryside. the story is of a man who has been convicted of a double homicide: he is set free in the hope that maigret can find out definitively whether he committed the crime, despite the facts of the case. i will be reading more. :)

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.

Jason Paulios

Definitely wouldn't have seen this ending coming, one of his darkest and most psychologically complicated Maigret stories that I've read. Most are pretty slick and good enough to just keep reading one after another, this one actually made me stop and think afterwards.

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.


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!


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'.


Simenon's Inspector Maigret reads to me like a character with one foot on the crisp, well-lighted terra firma of Holmes and Auguste Dupin and the other foot in the foggy hardboiled netherworld of Philip Marlow and Sam Spade. This novel is one of over seventy Inspector Maigret mysteries that Simenon penned over his hyper-prolfiic career. It is a fairly conventional story, hewing closely to the beats of the traditional sleuth story (a murder occurs, the sleuth gathers information, some of it contradictory and strange, all the while leaving the reader in the dark until the ultimate scene when the inspector lights his pipe and explains away the mystery step by step, pacing the floor like a math professor). The window dressing, however, has a distinct pre-noir flavor--Maigret does his work in the coffee shops of Paris, smoking and drinking with all manner of strange characters from all walks of life; he wanders the foggy streets around the Seine and encounters more than a few hard luck cases. Such moments provided the most interesting reading in this novel, particularly since I don't much go in for the traditional puzzle-master sleuth stories, and the quality of the puzzle in this novel was a tad underwhelming anyway.


A short Maigret in the classic Simenon tradition wherein Maigret solves a baffling mystery. An old woman and her maid is killed by a man to whom all the evidence points, yet even though he was the arresting officer, Maigret cannot reconcile the psychology of the man with the evidence. He arranges for the convicted killer to escape, risking his reputation and job discovering the identity of the true murderer while drawing on his pipe and sipping at his Calvados.The Maigret novels are addictive.

Filippo Bossolino

Ho trovato curioso il fatto che in questo quinto episodio della saga Maigret, il commissario metta a rischio la propria carriera per salvare la vita ad un condannato a morte, in quanto da lui ritenuto non colpevole dei crimini per cui accusato. Fra l'altro arrestato da Maigret stesso. Ho trovato curioso questo aspetto soprattutto perché nel romanzo precedente Maigret si rende "colpevole" del suicidio di una persona… Ma al di là dei possibili confronti rispetto agli scritti anteriori, "Una testa in gioco" rimane un'altra perla di Simenon. La parte relativa al rapporto Maigret-Radek è di assoluta intensità psicologica; entrambi decisi a non mollare, impostano una guerra di nervi, in cui Maigret, chiaramente, esce vincitore alla distanza.


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

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.

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