I think this is the longest of these Maigret books I’ve read thus far. Which doesn’t mean it’s very long. Simenon’s style is almost telegraphic in its abruptness, to the point where I feel like I can hear the typewriter keys hitting the paper as he banged them out. In The Misty Harbour he’s off again to a provincial town hiding a bunch of dirty secrets. So many that it takes the extra pages just to sort them all out.
As I proceed through the canon I’m finding a basic, recurring disjunction. The crimes and criminals are usually very interesting, with motivations grounded in strange yet familiar psychological conditions. But the plots are a stretch, feeling hasty and indifferently slapped-together. I think it’s what Eliot might have called a failure to find a successful objective correlative, in this case a plausible narrative, for representing extreme emotional states.
Another commonality is the way justice, at least in its formal, administrative sense, is rarely done. This is a point I made in my notes on The Yellow Dog. Culprits don’t get handcuffed and taken away by the police, but instead either destroy themselves or are let go by Maigret. I’m not sure what Simenon is saying in all this about the proper role of the police. He’s dogged in finding out what happened, but upon achieving that goal he basically loses interest and hops on a train back to Paris. Let God sort it out!