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Mr. Hire's Engagement    by Georges Simenon order for
Mr. Hire's Engagement
by Georges Simenon
Order:  USA  Can
Penguin, 2015 (1933)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

First published by Fayard in 1933 as Les Fiancailles de M. Hire, the Anna Moschovakis 2015 Penguin translation of Georges Simenon's Mr. Hire's Engagement recreates a scene that the author witnessed as a young reporter in Liege, a scene which continued to haunt him for years afterwards: that of an angry mob, and a man chased on to a roof, clinging to the cornice to keep from falling to his death.

So what should you know about this highly recommended 156-page novel? Consider this: Mr. Hire a short man, on the fat side, with a curled moustache always carries a black briefcase under his arm. What does he do for employment? Well, nobody really knows. He leaves his apartment in the morning and comes back in the evening. He is very much a mystery.

In the meantime, a newspaper article helps explain the situation in Mr. Hire's neighborhood: '... for fifteen days ... a tricky investigation ... big step forwards, thanks to the identification of the corpse ... most likely a certain Leonide Pacha, known as Lulu, a professional call girl, suggesting a sadistic motive ... still possible ... but the victim's purse was missing ... according to corroborating evidence it would have contained some 2,000 francs ... a new lead ... the inquiry enters its final phase ... discretion is of the essence ...'

Well, for two weeks, detectives have been spending their days and sometimes their nights in Mr. Hire's neighborhood, keeping watch. They suspect the short, fat man. But, constant reader, they might be wrong.

But stop. I cannot say more about without undermining your reading pleasure with plot spoilers, so I will instead say only this: Simenon's splendid crime novels now being reissued by Penguin have become my new favorites, and I agree with what William Faulkner said of the prolific French author: 'I love reading Simenon. He makes me think of Chekhov.' Need I say more? Enjoy!

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