by Georges Simenon, afterword by John Gray, translated from the French by Anna Moschovakis
An NYRB Classics Original
The 200th NYRB Classic
On the outskirts of Paris, a prostitute is found murdered in a vacant lot. In a seedy apartment house nearby lives pasty, fat Mr. Hire. Mr. Hire who earns his living through a petty postal scam, is a convicted pornographer, a peeping Tom, and, once a week, the unlikely star of a Parisian bowling club, where people think he works for the police. He is a faceless man of regular habits who keeps to himself and gives his neighbors the creeps. After the murder, Mr. Hire’s concierge points a finger at him: he was out late the night of the crime. The police have the suspect under twenty-four-hour surveillance. They are only waiting for him to make the inevitable mistake and give himself away. Except that creepy Mr. Hire is in fact an innocent man, whose only mistake is to have fallen head-over-heels in love with the wrong girl.
One of the most chilling and compassionate of Simenon’s extraordinary psychological novels, The Engagement explores the mystery of a blameless heart in a compromised soul.
Published when Europe was between the wars, the novel depicts the impoverished City of Light as a moral vortex where truth isn't as highly valued as survival. As with all of the hard novels, The Engagement is considerably more complex than most existential thrillers. Gripping, too—you'd have to scan the rest of the Simenon shelf to find a more engrossing beach read.
— Time Out New York
This is a quietly compelling story with no hero, no villain and no justice—just the inevitability of fate.
— Publishers Weekly