The Heart of a Man

by Georges Simenon, Prantice-Hall, $3.00.
M. Simmon, creator of the famous Inspector Maigret. is also the author of a raft of serious novels, among which his latest book belongs. It is a psychological study of an aging Parisian actor, “the great ” Maugin, who has just heard from a specialist that he has a ruined heart. Maugin is a savagely restless and unhappy man, who has to keep dosing himself with rin ordinaire and shots of cognac to escape “disturbing thoughts.”The story, which describes t he last weeks of his life with flashbacks into the past, is plotted somewhat in the form of a psychological mystery: the reader is held by the expectation that he will finally understand what makes Maugin tick — or rather, not tick. That promise is discharged somewhat disappointingly, if at all. But the novel remains a life-size portrait of a great figure of the Parisian theater — a wonderfully realistic narrative in the Balzacian tradition.