Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Inspector, the Moving Van Awaits

Sacrebleu! First, London’s Bow Street Magistrates’ Court closed its doors, after almost 270 years of operation. Now, the Criminal Division of France’s Sûreté in Paris is preparing to quit its home at 36 Quai des Orfèvres--a building well known to generations of crime-fiction fans. Reports the Belfast Telegraph:
Inspector Maigret and Inspector Clouseau are to lose their legendary, evil-smelling home on the banks of the Seine. The Paris Brigade Criminelle or “Crim” is to quit the dark and pokey headquarters at 36 Quai des Orfèvres that have served as its headquarters for almost 100 years for a hi-tech building in another part of the city.

To lovers of police fiction, this will be the greatest crime against romanticism since the Metropolitan Police abandoned the original Scotland Yard in 1967.

The Quai des Orfèvres, on the Ile de Cité, close to Notre Dame cathedral, was made famous by the 75 Maigret novels written by Georges Simenon between 1930 and 1972. Its dark, cramped offices and lino-covered staircases, smelling of sweat and cigarettes, are familiar to every generation of Paris detectives--as well as killers and gang leaders--since 1912.

Now the new Paris police chief, Michel Gaudin, wants the Brigade Criminelle to enter the 21st century. “It was no longer possible to make a case for staying there,” said Olivier Foll, head of the “Crim” from 1995 to 1997. “You just had to go to the headquarters of the FBI in Washington or to New Scotland Yard to grasp what was needed.”
(Hat tip to Sarah Weinman.)

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