Maigret by Georges Simenon 1934

In the last Maigret novel, our intrepid Chief Inspector was about to retire and this book, the 19th reissued by Penguin, finds him settled nicely with Mrs. Maigret into his rural cottage in the Loire.  His peace and quiet are interrupted when his nephew, Phillippe, who Maigret had helped obtain a position in the Police Judiciare, appears at the cottage in the middle of the night. It seems that Phillippe while on stakeout of a seedy club in Montemarte, was hiding in the club when the owner was shot. Phillippe panicked, picked up the murder weapon, and fled.  As a result, he is going to be charged with murder, and it is up to Maigret to return to Paris to find the real murderer despite no longer having any official status or authority.

Of course, he succeeds and we gain further insight into his methods.  We learn that he never thinks directly about who has committed the crime, but rather, in the words of Inspector Amideau his successor, ‘tries to understand their thinking and takes as much interest in things that happened to them twenty years earlier as he does in concrete clues.”   As in the other Maigret books, our Inspector hangs around until he gains an insight into the who and the what around the killing which leads him to finding the real killer.

As usual in a Simenon novel, the end is not totally neat and tidy.  The nephew does leave the police force and returns to his rural home and his parents.  Maigret returns to his garden.  The organizer of the murder goes to prison, but the actual murderer escapes and goes on to a life of crime abroad.  Life is messy!