By Georges Simenon
Set within the oppressively squalid streets of Paris, A Man's Head good points Simenon's famed detective as he tracks a killer at the run, whereas the writer's sharp prose conjures up the ambience of Parisian luxurious lodges, seedy bars, and darkish alleys.
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Extra resources for A Man's Head (Inspector Maigret, Book 5)
90 89 Maurice Renault, “En bavardant avec Léo Malet,” Magazine littéraire 21 (1949): 109-11. 90 Armand Hoog, “Mythologie du Pistolet: Romans policiers de Léo Malet,” Carrefour 07 Sept 1949. Rpt. , Nestor Burma détective de choc, un monde étrange. Spec. issue of Enigmatika 18 (1981). Paris: Butte-auxCailles, 1982: 119-22. 48 From Surrealism to Less-Exquisite Cadavers It may not be accurate to say that Burma “cache” his knowledge, as he shares it with the reader whenever possible. The range of his “connaissances,” including that of literary figures such as Mallarmé as well as historical faits-divers, is both surprising and impressive, as it goes beyond the culture scolaire that most French citizens shared.
When Burma first meets St-Germain, he says, “J’ignorais que vous fussiez un auteur de best-sellers, mais il ne me semble pas que ma réputation soit parvenue jusqu’à vous. Je suis également célèbre, vous savez? Enfin, plus ou moins. Et dans un autre domaine évidemment” (Enquêtes, 1: 742). Without the last sentence, reminding us that it is Burma the detective who is speaking, the voice could almost be that of Malet himself, frustrated by his relative anonymity compared to the fame of his own creation or of established writers such as Simenon and Breton.
Both variations circulate for Malet, who found much frustration in the film industry’s inability to adapt his novels successfully to the big screen. , a study of washed up actors and teen idols, but the novel is a rare example of a title that is neither arrondissement specific nor a jeu de mots. In most cases, Malet’s slang-filled verbosity colors the novels’ titles, provoking the reader’s curiosity and reflecting the narrative’s location. Sometimes a place is evoked, other times a plot device or mood.