At once an existential meditation on solitude, a crime story and a psychological portrait, Simenon's book (one of the 400+ he wrote, the prolific bugger!) is a delight to read. Having lived in France for a decade or so, I can attest to the authenticity of both the characterizations and the sentiments. Nary a word is wasted and his ability to create a thoroughly believable, utterly human, gently humorous character is a marvel. Some readers may not be entirely satisfied by the ending, and its Chekhov-like unresolved note, but I wasn't bothered. I do recommend, however, that you DON'T read the introduction by PD James in this edition until after you've read the book, since she gives away FAR too much. Read it after, for the insights.