by Georges Simenon, introduction by Anita Brookner, translated by Norman Denny
It is Friday evening before Labor Day weekend. Americans are hitting the highways in droves; the radio crackles with warnings of traffic jams and crashed cars. Steve Hogan and his wife, Nancy, have a long drive ahead—from New York City to Maine, where their children are in camp. But Steve wants a drink before they go, and on the road he wants another. Soon, exploding with suppressed fury, he is heading into that dark place in himself he calls “the tunnel.” When Steve stops for yet another drink, Nancy has had enough. She leaves the car.
On a bender now, Steve makes a friend: Sid Halligan, an escapee from Sing Sing. Steve tells Sid all about Nancy. Most men are scared, Steve thinks, but not Sid.
The next day, Steve wakes up on the side of the road. His car has a flat, his money is gone, and there’s one more thing still left for him to learn about Nancy, Sid Halligan, and himself.
No non-American writer, at least none who writes in a language other than English, has done a better job of it....The angry couple in The Hitchhiker [title for earlier English edition of Red Lights]...come across as real Americans, with some of our best qualities, as well as monstrous flaws.
— The Washington Post
Just the thing to take your mind off $4 gas: a truly chilling road-trip novel about a couple on their way to Maine to collect the kids from camp—and the escaped con who joins them.
— New York Magazine
Simenon saved the deep, dark, bone-chilling stuff for his psychopathological thrillers, books he called romans durs...Red Lights charts a hellish road trip, fueled by bad choices and their twisted consequences, soaked through with existential dread.
— Men's Journal, "15 Best Thrillers Ever Written"