The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By by Georges Simenon
Of Simenon's many novels, certain titles stand out as classics. This terrifying reconstruction of a madman's mind is one of them. Known in the little Dutch town of Groningen as a respectable family man, Kees Popinga is the managing clerk of a reputed shipping firm. But when the company collapses under dubious circumstances just before Christmas, taking all his money with it, something snaps in Popinga's mind. From the shell of this model citizen emerges a calculating paranoiac, capable of random acts of violence - even murder. The fugitive Popinga makes his way to Paris, playing a bizarre game of cat and mouse with the police - determined to force a hostile world to recognize his newfound criminal genius. In "The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By", Simenon created a compelling portrait of a man pushed too far, vividly reconstructing the effect on a mind in the spiralling grip of madness.