Maigret: Pietr the Latvian

Maigret is introduced as a big guy, though evidence varies in the series as to how tall he is. He’s more broad like a bull. He dominates a room. When he walks down a narrow corridor his shoulders brush either wall.

Tough guy too. He can take a bullet and keep on the case. And when his partner is killed he can’t cry. Literally, he’s “unable to shed tears.”

But he’s sensitive as well. Or at least he’s good at reading people, which is a kind of sensitivity. The book begins with a simple exercise in decoding. Ironically, the anthropometric information he receives will be of no use at all given the nature of the mystery to be solved.

Maigret has a simple theory for solving crime that he refers to as the crack in the wall. “Inside every crook and wrong-doer there lives a human being.” Eventually that human being will reveal itself. I suppose by extension this might mean that inside every human being there’s another human being as well, so that all any of us ever reveal to the world is a façade.

In this case Maigret gets lucky and the crack comes from the wrong-doer’s fondness for alcohol. Not much work involved there.

The plot carries some message about the duality of man, though not so much good and evil as high and low. This is the real conflict in society, more so even than that between villains and do-gooders.

Maigret index

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