I am a little embarrassed to say that I read much of this while half cut, so my memory of the plot is a little hazy. But I enjoy the Maigret novels more for the atmosphere and the incidental description than for the plots which, even with my limited experience of them, are a bit formulaic.

Unlike more modern detective stories, the police, including Maigret himself, are all earthy but morally unblemished characters. None of the moral ambivalence and tortured ethical dilemmas of a Kojak or the police in that excellent if rather violent film, The Departed.

But Maigret is on good form in this novel, contemplating retirement but still catching out the villain, his throat regularly moistened with white wine and beer, usually brought into the police station with sandwiches while he interrogates someone.

Ah, Paris in the 1950s. A neat, ordered and civilised world. Which is comforting to be part of, for a short time, while reading this novel.

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