Maigret and the Flemish Shop by Georges Simenon 1932
Maigret once again is exiled by Simenon to a rural spot to solve a crime that has no bearing on his real job in Paris. In this case, he ends up in Givet, a small village on the Meuse at the French/Belgian border, Jack Reacher like, getting off the train and plunging into the investigation of the disappearance of Germaine Piedboeuf. Germaine is the mother of a child born out of wedlock to her and Joseph, the brother of Anna Peeters who had traveled to Paris to beg Maigret to come to Givet to advocate for her brother and the Belgian family in this border village, who all the French, including Inspector Machere of the Nancy police, suspected of murdering Germaine. Maigret does his usual thing, wandering around the village (‘plunging into the atmosphere of the town”, talking to random people, musing and repeatedly telling his police colleague that he didn’t think anything or suspect anyone. At the end of the few days in Givet, Maigret had identified the murderer but returned to Paris without identifying her to the local police. As in a previous book, Maigret was more concerned with understanding people and their motivations, fears, wishes, dreams than in bringing the perpetrator to justice. A good, not great Maigrat.