Georges Simenon's chilling portrayal of tragic love, persecution and betrayal. 'One sensed in him neither flesh nor bone, nothing but soft, flaccid matter, so much so that his movements were hard to make out. Very red lips stood out from his orb-like face, as did the thin moustache that he curled with an iron and looked as if it had been drawn on with India ink; on his cheekbones were the symmetrical pink dots of a doll's cheeks.' People find Mr Hire strange, disconcerting. The tenants he shares his building with try to avoid him. He is a peeping Tom, a visitor of prostitutes, a dealer in unsavoury literature. He is also the prime suspect for a brutal murder that he did not commit. Yet Mr Hire's innocence will not stand in the way of those looking for a scapegoat as tragedy unfolds in this quietly devastating and deeply unnerving novel. 'The romans durs are extraordinary: tough, bleak, offhandedly violent, suffused with guilt and bitterness, redolent of place . . . utterly unsentimental, frightening in the pitilessness of their gaze, yet wonderfully entertaining' John Banville Georges Simenon was born in Liège, Belgium, in 1903. Best known in Britain as the author of the Maigret books, his prolific output of over 400 novels and short stories have made him a household name in continental Europe. He died in 1989 in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he had lived for the latter part of his life.