This was a delightful little Maigret, chiefly because Madame Maigret is at the heart of it and even does some sleuthing herself. Mention is made that this is the first that she had done so, which leads me to believe that The Madman of Bergerac (Appearances are deceiving) was later in the Maigret Mythos. At any rate, this was a splendid read.
Madame Maigret has been seeing a new dentist and since the previous appointment is always running late, she has taken to sitting on a park bench across the street until the patient has left. Over the weeks she has become friendly with a young woman in a smart white hat accompanying a toddler, so is not put out when the woman asks her to watch the child for a moment while she dashes out on an errand. Only the woman does not come right back and Madame Maigret is forced to miss her appointment, all the time worrying what to do about the child and the nice chicken she has cooking at home. Much later, the woman returns in a taxi, calls to the boy without disembarking and mumbles an apology to Madame Maigret, then speeds off. By the time she returns home, her chicken is ruined and her husband is lunching on cold bread and cheese. Horreurs!
Meanwhile, the chief inspector is working a case that has him frazzled. It has been in the papers from the get go, generating so many tips to follow up that the whole department is involved, with Lucas devoting all his time to collating and collecting the data. This is not the way our Maigret likes to work and it has diluted and made null his usual line of inquiry. Thankfully, Madame Maigret’s adventure sparks something in him that sets him on a different track and before long the two incidents dovetail. Then it seems that there is a leak in the department. He soon discovers that little Lapointe has been unwittingly feeding the information to the press via his sister, and begins to use that to his advantage. Madame Maigret herself even takes it upon herself to do some legwork and before long, the case comes together.