In Maigret Enjoys Himself our hero
felt a bit jealous of Janvier, not because of his success, but for a silly reason. Every time an investigation at the Police Judiciaire incurred certain costs, such as travel, they had to fight a battle with the accountants, who went through every expense claim with a fine-tooth comb.
How had Janvier managed to swing a flight to Cannes? They must be attaching a singular importance to this case, that they should have loosened the purse strings so much.
I don’t know if it was in reaction to this, but Maigret gets to score some major frequent-flier points (as well as riding in a Rolls-Royce for the first time) in this next adventure as he flies off to Nice, Monte Carlo, and Lausanne while investigating the case of a billionaire drowned in a bathtub. Being a billionaire in 1957 was, I suspect, a pretty big deal. But it’s important to get the currency right. In this instance, “If you count in francs, it’s correct. Not in pounds.” In any event, I’m not sure what the exchange was at the time, but the deceased was rich.
As things turn out, Maigret doesn’t dislike members of the elite set, but they upset him.
These people irritated him, that much was a fact. Faced with them, he was in the position of a newcomer in a club, for example, or a new pupil in a class who feels awkward and embarrassed because he doesn’t yet know the rules, the customs, the catchphrases, and assume the others are laughing at him.
Of course, putting a chip on Maigret’s shoulder isn’t a good idea if you want to get away with murder, and aside from all the flying about he handles this one pretty easily. In fact, there’s really only the one suspect. It’s not much of a mystery. The best part of the book is a lengthy psychological analysis Maigret performs on the super-rich, finding them mostly as fearful of falling out of a lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed and spoiled by. Spoiled meaning no longer capable of functioning with any kind of independence.
. . . all those who led this kind of existence – wouldn’t these people feel lost, helpless, naked somehow, as powerless, clumsy and fragile as babies, if suddenly they were plunged into everyday life?
Are “these people” still with us? Not the super-rich, they’re obviously still around, but a class that is totally dependent on a servant class to exist? For all the rhetoric adopted by today’s upper class, of being alphas and hard-nosed masters of the universe, I think most of them are probably the same. What’s more, their fear is greater than ever, as it’s an even longer way down.