Two short novels of fated, fateful lives, observed with Simenon's cool scientific detachment, make up this his latest book. The Magician tells of Antoine's own probe into his marriage with Julie, the background of his drinking, the effects of his performances and the crisis of Julie's sickness. The Widow follows the course of Tati Couderc when she picks up Jean, who has finished a five year prison term for murder, as she befriends him and reveals her relationship with her dead husband's family. For Jean falls in love with her niece, is overwhelmed by Tati's suspicion and when she is taken sick he is never without her jealous policing which eventually drives him to kill her. The precise dissection here has its own effect.