It was such a beautiful day that Maigret caught an open-air bus to the precinct and “he had gorged himself on images of a Paris colored like a children’s book.” That lovely mood is soon dashed when Maigret is called to investigate the death of an invalid, but it wasn’t just any old man in a wheelchair. This Corsican had been a central figure in the Parisian underworld and was even a sometime CI to Maigret over the years. The Chief Inspector knows that this is all somehow related to a series of smash and grab robberies that go back twenty years, so he sets about immersing himself in the case and it’s seemingly unrelated cast of players. As the case progresses, there are more questions than answers, going all the way back to a tragic incident at Douai in WWII.
And through it all, that thoughtful, crystalline prose:
“In his semi-consciousness, all his fears became like the notes of a muted, tragic symphony, the latent fears we drag behind us to the end: acute fear that makes us scream; fear we laugh about when it’s over; fear of accidents, disease, policemen; fear of people, of what they say, of what they think, of the looks they give us when they go by.”
More than once someone asks him what he thinks about the case and who might be responsible and every time he says “I think nothing”, the perfect distillation of his method. Like trying to see the image in one of those “magic eye” pictures, he thinks in no particular direction, just relaxes and settles into the milieu until it all comes into focus.