Something about wicked women seems to have got Simenon’s creative juices flowing. Looking back on the books I’ve read in the series, it’s the bad girls who stand out the most. Madame Le Cloagulen in Signed, Picpus was probably the worst, but Madame Serre gives her a run for the money here. Related to this fascination with such women is an instinctive loathing of men who are excessively mothered. The Flemish House and My Friend Maigret are the best examples. I wonder if there was some psychological projection going on here, as Maigret himself is waited on hand and foot by his wife.
In any event, Maigret and the Tall Woman combines both of these elements into one of the chief inspector’s most enjoyable cases. Enjoyable in part because Maigret himself is having so much fun. Guillaume Serre is actually bigger than Maigret is, which makes taking him down into a special challenge. This will be a heavyweight match-up for the ages!
Had it become a personal matter between him and Guillaume Serre? More precisely, would events have played out in the same manner, would Maigret have come to the same decision, at the same moment, if the man from Rue de la Ferme hadn’t been a heavyweight like him, both physically and psychologically?
From the start he seemed intent to test himself against him.
Alas, that’s not quite how things work out. But the sting in the tail of this one, a doctor’s stoppage almost, is even more satisfying than a knockout.