Maigret, Georges Simenon 1934

This early Maigret novel is not the best among Simenon’s 76 books about the burly, gruff, and incredibly effective Chief Inspector of the Paris Police Judiciare.  Though early in the series, we find Maigret and his wife living in the Loire Valley, retired and spending his time raising a garden.  His tranquil days are interrupted by the arrival of his nephew who has recently joined the police force and is now being threatened with arrest for murder.  Simenon trudges back to Paris and begins his familiar slog through the minds and lives of a whole crew of dangerous and misfit ne’er do wells who congregate at the Cafe Floria where the murder took place.  Despite his lack of jurisdiction and authority, Maigret solves the crime, actually firing his gun which may be the only time he’s done so in all the Simenon books I’ve read.  A few interesting bad guys, a desultory plot—better for Maigret to have stayed in his garden, perhaps.

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