There’s no “Maigret” in the title of this story/novella, because Maigret doesn’t appear in it. But it’s part of the A Maigret Christmas volume and takes place in the same universe since Janvier puts in an appearance, so I figured I should cover it.
In fact, the absence of Maigret is one of the less surprising aspects of the story. It’s entirely set in the police switchboard control room on Christmas day, with the staff on duty responding to calls coming in from all around Paris. Then a murdered body is found and one of the operators recognizes the name of the victim. It seems his brother may be involved.
It’s a clever idea to limit the action to the one room, with witnesses and reports being fed into that room bit by bit. You could imagine the thing being done on stage, or Hitchcock taking up the challenge of making something out of it on film. I’m not sure it works quite as well on the page, and the first chapter is a bit confusing, but it’s certainly a change-up for the series and I think it’s nicely done.
It’s a neat story too, with a sort of double-manhunt plot that has the brother’s son intent on catching a serial killer while Janvier and the rest of the police try to find them. Also interesting is the man who’s been laid off trying to keep up appearances by still going out to work every night with his lunch pail. He’s someone we’d meet again in the Michael Douglas movie Falling Down and the John Lanchester novel Mr. Phillips. Was this the first appearance of such a character? It may well have been, as Un Noël de Maigret was first published in 1951 and I don’t think we really understood the condition yet.
5 thoughts on “Maigret: Seven Small Crosses in a Notebook”
Nice that he branched out a bit. Did he do more Maigrets without him?
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The other story in A Maigret Christmas is like this in that it’s set in the same universe and Maigret isn’t in it but Lognon is. I’ll probably post on it next. I guess the idea is that all three stories take place on the same Christmas Eve/Christmas Day and Maigret was busy with his case so these other stories have to get by without him.
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A nice change then.
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Is it like A Bad Mom’s Christmas?
The next story is a bit like that. Even a catfight in a bar. But the only bad mom here is the old woman who gets killed at the beginning.