In Brussels on an ill-starred business venture, 35-year-old Elie Nagear (a Turk of Portuguese extraction) finds himself...

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THE LODGER

In Brussels on an ill-starred business venture, 35-year-old Elie Nagear (a Turk of Portuguese extraction) finds himself near-penniless in a fancy hotel, semi-abandoned by his latest traveling companion, showgirl Sylvie Baron. . . who's been eyeing a wealthy Dutchman at a local nightspot. So Elie follows the Dutchman onto a Paris-bound train, murders him with a heavy wrench, steals his wad of cash--and returns to Brussels, where greedy Sylvia becomes his accessory after the fact. She arranges for his hideout: he'll stay--as one of several lodgers--with Sylvie's Brussels-suburbs family. (The other residents include a withdrawn Polish-Jewish student and a more rakish European sort.) Sylvie's sister Antoinette, soon realizing that Elie is the criminal in the now-famous train murder, agrees to keep his secret. But the police are closing in fast--and, though Sylvie repeatedly orders Elie to leave the house, he whimperingly throws himself on the family's mercy, reaching both Antoinette and Madame Baron (whose husband is kept in the dark) with her babyish pathos. (The other lodgers are less compassionate.) Finally, in fact, Madame B. will even follow the arrested convict in his travels onto a prison-ship. This vaguely pathological link, however, never becomes credible or dramatic here; nor is the under-characterized Ellie a convincing (let alone sympathetic) study--either as murderer or fugitive. In sum: one of the weaker examples of Simenon's non-Maigret crime fiction, without the psychological richness of other recently translated novellas.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 1983

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1983