It’s sad evidence of how played out the Maigret series was getting that this one begins exactly the same way as the previous installment (Maigret and the Lazy Burglar): with the detective chief inspector being woken out of a dream to answer the phone, and a call which draws him in to deal with an especially tricky case. Plus there’s the fact that he’s starting to seem even more of a grumpy old man:
He was keen for the summer and the holiday season to be over, for everyone to be back in their place. He’d frown each time his eye lighted on a young woman in the street still sporting the tight trousers worn on the beach, feet bare and tanned, nonchalantly treading the Paris cobblestones in sandals.
If you’re so old you can’t appreciate nice things like a pretty girl in beach clothes than you really have turned a corner in life.
The title refers to a family of very good people. Things kick off with the father being found dead in his study. By most accounts he didn’t have an enemy in the world. But, as Maigret grumbles, “it’s the good people who give us the most trouble.” After a while the repetition of “good man” wears on him.
A crime had definitely taken place, because a man had been killed. Only it wasn’t a crime like any other, because the victim wasn’t a victim like any other.
“A good man!” echoed Maigret with a sort of anger.
Who would have had a reason to kill that good man?
It wouldn’t take much for him to start loathing good people.
You see what I mean about turning into a grouch?
The twist here is that there is no twist. You’ll be expecting some dark revelation about how the good people aren’t so good after all, but as it turns out they mostly are. Then the explanation for what happened only gets dropped in at the end in a tired manner, and it barely makes any sense. It also isn’t arrived at by any special power of deduction or observation, but just comes about when Maigret stops into the right bar to ask for a drink. I’m still hoping the series has a few more gems, but by this point Georges was mailing them in.