Tony, an agricultural equipment salesman, has a home he’s nearly paid off, a plain but agreeable wife, and a daughter he loves well enough.

Even with all that going for him, Tony find very little meaning in life until one such meaningless comment he makes to a mistress sets off a shocking chain of events that forces him to contemplate, however feebly, human passions and their consequences.

If you’ve ever cheated on your poly-amorous domestic partner, or made some other grave error over which you’ve agonized to the point of wanting to commit seppuku – the sort of event that still makes your stomach sour and causes you feel like a hunted animal – then reading this book will help you re-live that episode.

A swift psychological thriller by the old Belgian master of mystery who spent his own life feeling like a prisoner to the world, a man afraid of death and trying perpetually “both to find and to escape himself.”  You can acutely experience Simenon’s struggle through The Blue Room.

Simenon writes in the omniscient third person with a functional, realist style that unpretentiously conveys Tony’s bewildered thoughts as he drifts through his own life like he’s a mere stranger to it.  Like so many of Simenon’s contemporaries of crime fiction, Simenon leans closer to the brevity of a Hemingway/James M. Cain than to the romantic and florid forays of a Dickens (or rather a P.D. James to complete the mystery-writer comparison).  The style is not cumbersome to read, it helps drive the jumpy pace of the story, and ultimately compliments the brief tale of a man running scared through a forest of specters he has unwittingly created for himself.