I had a very long journey yesterday – a train trip from Prague to Vienna was but a small part albeit a highlight — perfect for reading a short Simenon novel. This one’s set on a Sunday in a small pension in the South of France. It begins on glorious day, as a couple is waking up. Simenon describes the bodies, the breaths, the density of the air, the smells of the people, the colours of the view. It’s a very sensuous setting for a murder. The man on the bed is Émile, the chef; the woman, Berthe, his wife, who he feels has trapped him; she is the owner of the pension and, he fears, of him. The rumblings upstairs are from Ada, the maid and Émile’s mistress. Murder is the bid for freedom and a new life. The whole novel is an account of the events of the day leading up to the murder -when? How? -with flashbacks explaining the why. Every detail seems common sense yet they all add up to a damming and very entertaining picture of amorality. A risotto, the chef’s speciality, takes pride of place in a startling finale that overturns much of what the reader has thought so far, risottos included. Thanks to Richard for the gift of the book.