Maigret: Maigret and the Loner

A homeless man is found shot dead in an abandoned building. The word most often used to describe such people in these books is “tramp,” and I thought for a moment that Maigret and the Tramp would have been a better title for this one but then remembered that it had already been used.

As with the previous tramp, the victim here just walked out of his marriage and his old life, only to end up as a Parisian crime statistic some twenty years later. The mystery unravels in the usual perfunctory manner of the later Maigret novels. As a reader, Simenon doesn’t even let you play along because he just skims over any necessary information. Indeed, at one point I was surprised to find Maigret looking for a suspect who he described as very tall and thin with a long face and blue eyes. When I went back I couldn’t find where Maigret had got this description from, as the suspect had only been described as looking “very upright” by the first witness. A second witness, at least in his initial interview, doesn’t mention seeing anyone with the victim at all, but Maigret later calls him back in to identify the suspect. I feel like I missed something here, and probably did.

In any event, it doesn’t matter because a clue like that – a tall, thin man with blue eyes – doesn’t mean anything to a reader until you come to a later description of a character as a tall, thin man with blue eyes. At which point you know that’s the guy. Throw in the fact that this suspect and his wife sleep in separate bedrooms (always a bad sign in Maigret’s world) and the detective chief inspector has got his man. It’s all automatic and not very interesting, which by this point shouldn’t come as any surprise.

Maigret index


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