“It was December 3, and still raining….It was exactly three weeks ago, for it had been on November 13 (another fat 3 on the calendar) that the first old woman had been murdered, near the church of Saint-Sauveur, a few steps from the canal.”
So begins one of Simenon’s most powerful novels. Five old women have been killed within three weeks, and the town of La Rochelle is in a panic. A murderer stalks his victims in its dark alleys and arcades, killing in a seemingly incomprehensible pattern.
In the terrorized town there is only one man who has guessed the secret, but, humble and a foreigner, he does not dare denounce a citizen of substance. His relationship with the criminal is strangely perverted—innocent trembling before the guilty.
As this chilling novel unravels with increasing momentum, it becomes more than a mystery story—an absorbing study of the thrill of power experienced by a killer who starts out with a practical purpose and ends up addicted to his macabre skill.
Tightly and brilliantly plotted, this is unquestionably one of Simenon’s masterpieces.
Harcourt Trade Publishers