The table is nicely set with the location and cast, especially the pair of Danish weirdos. But the resolution disappoints. Intentionally? It seems as though Simenon was, already, wanting to poke some fun at the mystery genre. When we first meet “Else” she “was wreathed in what American movies portray as sex appeal.” Ah, the femme fatale. But why only the sex appeal of American sirens? Maigret is just as entranced by her loose peignoir as any audience in the heartland would be.
I think Simenon is having a go at conventions. Take the way Maigret drags all the suspects (it’s a full house) in for the big reveal in the Poirot manner. He’s even described as being like a conductor leading a “motley orchestra.” And then there’s the fight in the well that is described as clownish, a farce, and buffoonery, followed by revelations that come as though “just like a novel.”
It’s not surprising this one has been filmed several times (thus completing Else’s circle). Those police inspectors gripping revolvers in both fists as they jump out of their car are straight from Warner Brothers’ back lot. All a lot of fun, but it left me wondering where things could go from here.