THE MURDERER by Georges Simenon


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From the mid-1930's: another of Simenon's short novels about a middle-aged man making a desperate lurch out of the ""rut"" of bourgeois life--in this case, by coolly committing a double-murder. . .and then suffering the social (if not legal) consequences. Dr. Hans Kuperus, 45, from the provinicial Dutch town of Sneek, has known for some months that his wife is having an affair with local playboy Schutter. So now, after buying a gun in Amsterdam, Kuperus quite competently manages to kill both wife and rival (a man he has always envied), dumping their bodies into the freezing canal. For many weeks it's assumed that Schutter and Mrs. K. have run off together--as Kuperus plays the dignified role of stoic cuckold. And even when the bodies are found, there's no evidence to prove that Kuperus was the killer. Despite having committed the ""perfect crime,"" however, Kuperus doesn't enjoy himself for long. After a period of exhilaration, defiance, and lustiness (he makes the willing yet frigid maid his mistress), he becomes obsessed with what people are thinking about him. Do they suspect? Are they afraid of him? And his erratic behavior does indeed feed the local rumor-mills--leading to escalating social humiliation, pressure to leave town, and total psychic deterioration: having escaped from provincial propriety, the doctor is ""terrified by the emptiness he had escaped into,"" so he ends up clinging to the pathetic remnants of his stuffy, proper former life. Less than convincing as a clinical case-history or a sociological lesson--but leanly effective in that grim, depressing Simenon fashion.

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 1986
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich