It was in my review of Maigret Sets a Trap that I first remarked on how much significance Maigret puts on married couples sleeping in separate bedrooms. It’s something that the detective chief inspector often finds himself taking note of in these books, and when we find out here that Émile Parendon and his wife aren’t sleeping together we can only take it as a red flag. It’s the flip side of how much time Simenon spends describing Maigret and Madame Maigret together in bed, which is obviously something he holds up as a kind of domestic ideal.
I liked reading Maigret Hesitates, though it’s representative of most of the later books in this series in that the ending was a lot less interesting than the build-up. The premise here had a lot of potential, with Maigret receiving an anonymous note in which a murder is announced. He investigates the grand old house from which the letter came and finds the usual family of rich eccentrics. It all seems building up to something neat, but then the murder itself is more of an accident and all the preliminaries, like the emphasis on Article 64 of the Penal Code, are made irrelevant. At least they seem irrelevant to me. Maigret apparently thinks Article 64 has some application to the murder, though I’m not sure what.
More than that though, Simenon just isn’t creating interesting psychological types anymore. Even a couple as weird as the Parendons are strange without being relatable or compelling. Nor is there anything interesting in the family relations. So what you get is an entertaining read, but the odd elements (like the letters and the Article 64 obsession) don’t add up and there’s no big payoff.