giovedì 14 giugno 2018

SIMENON SIMENON. LOCKED ROOM MYSTERY NUMBER TWO

On the second way the author joined a special club for mystery writers 

SIMENON SIMENONMYSTERE EN CHAMBRE CLOSE NUMERO 2 
A propos du deuxième moyen par lequel l’auteur a rejoint un club réservé aux écrivains de polars.
SIMENON SIMENON. MISTERO DELLA CAMERA CHIUSA NUMERO 2
In merito all'altro modo con cui l'autore si unisce al club riservati agli scrittori di gialli 




Simenon wrote a second locked room mystery. La nuit des sept minutes ("The Seven-Minute Night"; the bad news is that there does not seem to be an English translation of this story. It is available in an Italian collection: Tre inchieste dell’ispettore G.7is a much longer (26 pages) story created in April 1931. First published serially under the Georges Simenon name in the weekly magazine Marianne during 1933it subsequently appeared in the four-story collection Les sept minutes from Gallimard in 1938. It eventually spawned the play Le Pavillon d’Asnières in 1943. 
This case starts with the detective G-7 showing his ever-present friend, the narrator, an anonymous note that had been sent to the police. In clipped newspaper type, it announces Yvan Morotzov will be killed on a specific date in his house. The predetermined victim is a former Russian Army general who at the time is living alone in Paris as a political exile. The man had become an addicted gambler and, on his way downhill into poverty, had practically ruined his only daughter Sonia. Constant vigilance is maintained around the house on the fateful date by G-7 although, deep into the night, the narrator dozes for precisely seven minutes. While the target is out for dinner, the police search the house, top to bottom, and find it empty. The victim returns home and ascends to his bedroom. He lights an oil lamp, undresses, goes to bed, and extinguishes the light, leaving G-7 and his team to observe the house throughout the long, cold, and rainy night. In the morning, they knock on the front door and, receiving no response, force their way inside. 
Here is what they find: a man upstairs. Lying on the floor. Unmoving. Face already frozen. A cadaver. It is an “ordinary” bedroom where hundreds of cigarette butts and a piece of string cover an unswept floor and a scorched carpet. The sparse furnishings are all secondhand.  A magnificent silver samovar and a fine porcelain teacup” stand out among the “mediocrity of the other objects, as a reminder of past splendor. The inventory includes an unmade iron bed. A bedside table. A commode, a basin, and a pitcher. A dresser. A mirror. An easy chair. Two straight back chairs. There was not even a fireplace, just a metal pipe along one wall, floor-to-ceiling, connected to a stove below for heating, featuring a sliding shutter aperture for cleaning. The room has just one door but three windows, all shut. Close examination of the victim reveals a single small spot of blood on his pajamas in front of his heart. His hands are empty. The medical examiner projects an instantaneous cardiac death and places it within a two-hour period during the wee hours.  
There is no one else anywhere within the house. Inside, “there is no hiding place possible.” Outside, there are nfootprints in the wet earth. And, above all, there is no gun anywhere. “Of course, the gun is not there!” 
Once again, as in the preceding The Little House at Croix-Rousse, the quandary is one of a dead man, inside a ‘locked room’ all by himself, a bullet hole in his chest, and no weapon in sight. Is it murder? Is it suicide?  Whodunit? And how? 
Of particular interest is the way this story shares multiple similarities with the earlier ‘locked room’ story, but the crucial explanation of the mystery at the end is completely different. 
Anyone who is unable to read this story and interested in obtaining a brief explanation of this mystery could request one through the email contact button on this website: http://www.davidpsimmons.com/  

David P Simmons 

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