A man is shot to death outside his home late one night and the French lecturer on forensic and theoretical police work who had been staying with the dead man’s family has been asked to stay in the picture postcard little village in Holland while the investigation takes place. The lecturer, Jean Duclos, through the University of Nancy where he teaches, has requested that someone from the French police to come and assist in the investigation.The task falls on Maigret, who makes his unofficial visit even more unofficial by not alerting the Dutch authorities of his intent. This sets up a tense situation, not just with the local authorities, but with the dead man’s family, friends and Jean Duclos himself.
Everyone at the home at the time of the murder are all fine upstanding citizens and the local police just want to wrap this distasteful affair up by blaming the shooting on an outsider. The dead man was a former sea captain and adventurer who was most recently employed as a teacher at the Naval College, so it was easy to blame the shooting on some unsavory outside element from the man’s past.
But Maigret is too shrewd to buy that as he begins to unravel the sins of this respectable churchgoing community. The whole thing leaves an exceedingly bad taste in his mouth and after he gathers everyone around to explain what really did happen, he goes back to Paris and sets about forgetting the whole unpleasant incident. When he bumps into one of the key players a year or so later in Paris, he learns how the whole thing finally came to a resolution and it makes him all grumpy again. The book ends with :
“That day, when he returned to headquarters, he contrived excuses to shout at all his inspectors.”
I don’t blame him. Those people were horrible.