By Georges Simenon
Set within the oppressively squalid streets of Paris, A Man's Head positive factors Simenon's famed detective as he tracks a killer at the run, whereas the writer's sharp prose conjures up the ambience of Parisian luxurious inns, seedy bars, and darkish alleys.
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Extra info for A Man's Head (Inspector Maigret, Book 5)
69 Caillois’s detective is an esthete, solving crimes as an intellectual exercise and not as a way to make a living. While it is unlikely that Malet had read Caillois’s essay before creating Burma,70 it almost seems as if he used Callois’s essay as a parallel blueprint for creating a detective that would be nothing like anyone expected from a French writer. Malet’s Burma is well read, but is hardly an esthete, and does what he does to keep himself alive. While he desires money, fame is even more appealing, and he fears no consequences if he knows his name will be in the newspaper.
83 Malet, again, stands apart from other French writers, even in his own subgenre, as his language is always colorful, if sometimes cynical, and never cold. His style approaches that of a roman à suspens, noted for its vivid descriptions, but as the suspens is a subgenre noteworthy for not always needing a detective, as when a falsely accused person sets out to find the “real” killer, Malet’s series definitely remains a true noir. Malet expanded the boundaries of detective fiction, to the extent that there are elements of several subgenres in his series.
The fable corresponds to “la réalité évoquée . . ”74 With the sujet, “l’auteur peut nous présenter les résultats avant les causes, la fin avant le début,”75 whereas the fable is the action of the story in its natural order, without inversion. That the two stories of “crime” and “enquête” can coexist in a detective novel is paradoxical for Todorov, which he dismisses by labeling the story of the crime as a story of absence. ”78 “Paradoxical” characterization does not hold for a roman noir, whose second story, the story of the investigation, is more important than the story of the initial crime.