A Labor Day Trip with Georges Simenon

New York Review Books would like to wish you a Labor Day unlike Steve Hogan’s. The protagonist of Georges Simenon’s dark psychological thriller Red Lights, Steve is one of the millions of Americans hitting the highway on the Friday before Labor Day weekend. He and his wife, Nancy, are traveling from New York City to Maine, where their children are at summer camp. But somewhere in the midst of the thick traffic and heavy drinking of the trip, Steve “goes into the tunnel”: a mental fugue characterized by pathological uncertainty, dangerous strangers, and the uncanny.

Red Lights, one of the prolific Simenon’s nearly two hundred novels, is remarkable for its flawless American flavor. It combines the distinctive ingredients of the romans durs—chilling clarity, a strange departure from normal life, and a moment of rapture that will ensure the plot’s downfall—with the sensory detail of the American public holiday.

Simenon’s thriller, heralded by New York Magazine as “a truly chilling road trip novel,” was also named by Men’s Journal as one of the “15 Best Thrillers Ever Written.” Red Lights is a gripping read with an extra shot of spine-chill this September 6; we dare you to read it.
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