You can take Maigret out of Paris, and even out of France, but wherever he goes he’s still investigating the same sort of crimes using the same method. Even in NYC we have “the social mechanism” at work: a great fortune rooted in a historical crime that will only gradually come to the surface. Then, when it’s time for wrapping up, Maigret will realize that nothing has been accomplished so he’ll just let things go.
Maigret is out of his element in the Big Apple but he sticks to his plan of putting in lots of plodding footwork until the solution comes to him. “I let myself drift with the current, clutching here and there on a passing branch.” Which is actually a pretty good way of going at things. Claiming that he knows nothing (until he knows everything) is the same as saying that he likes to keep an open mind. The problem with most police investigations that go wrong is developing tunnel vision in the early going.
I thought that there might be some connection made to Cécile is Dead because in that novel an American had come to Paris to study Maigret’s method and Maigret looks up an American he’d met in France a few years earlier when he comes to New York. But they are different people (in Cécile is Dead the American had been Spencer Oats of the Philadelphia Institute of Criminology, while here it’s Special Agent O’Brien of the FBI). Also of some assistance is another one of those weird secondary characters scattered throughout the series, in this instance a sad, alcoholic former clown named Ronald Dexter. He makes up for the fact that the villains of the piece are mostly kept off-stage and aren’t very interesting anyway. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure at the end what wickedness had happened all those years ago. But, much like Maigret himself in the end, I didn’t care a whole lot either.