In my notes on the previous Maigret novel, Maigret’s Mistake, I started off by mentioning the fact that there are recurring characters in the series. One of these is the innocent man on the run. Such a fugitive even shows up in Maigret’s Mistake, in the form of the deceased’s boyfriend.
In almost every case these guys are just red herrings. In Maigret Goes to School the story is kicked off by another, the village schoolmaster Joseph Gastin, who everyone in the village of Saint-André seems eager to convict for the murder of the village scold. We can be pretty sure he’s innocent though, and he’s soon packed off the district jail while Maigret goes looking for the real killer.
Not a very interesting entry. The mechanics of how the old lady got shot, and who saw it happen, depend on being able to visualize a complicated physical setting. I don’t know if a map or drawing would have helped. Once again the people of the village close ranks and it’s up to Maigret to somehow pierce their defensive shell. Once again he feels personally challenged, this time by the deputy mayor.
There he was, planted in the middle of the village like a malicious god who knew everything that happened inside people’s heads and homes, enjoying the show put on for him in solitary pleasure.
He saw Maigret more as an equal than as an enemy.
“You’re a very shrewd man,” he seemed to say. “You pass for a champion at your game. In Paris, you find out everything anyone tries to hide from you.
“Only I’m a shrewd man, too. And here, I’m the one who knows.
“Try! Play your game. Question people. Worm their secrets out of them.
“We’ll see if you ever figure anything out!”
But in the end it’s not as hard as all that.