Maigret is out-of-sorts.
What could the Scotland Yard man be thinking of him? He had come to study “Maigret’s methods” and Maigret had no method. He found only a large, rather clumsy man who must appear to him to be the prototype of the French public servant. How long would be go on following him about like that?
Then one cold, blustery and rainy day in Paris he learns that a murder victim down south had evoked his name just days before being killed. The local investigator seems to think that the fact that the dead man proclaimed that Maigret was a friend of his is the motive for his murder. Maigret himself doesn’t know that he really has to get involved in the investigation, but he is weary and the fact that it is in the sunny south makes it rather enticing. So, with his Scotland Yard man in tow, he heads down to the Porquerolles. As in Simenon’s The Mahe Circle, this idyllic little island becomes a character itself, every bit as important as the colorful inhabitants and visitors are.
What was so interesting to me about this installment in the Maigret ouvre, was how this Scotland Yard man made him question and second guess his own way of doing things. Oh it wasn’t anything the man said or did, but being scrutinized made Maigret a little too aware of how he looks from the outside. He didn’t feel free to amble about and absorb things, often while having a beer (or tot of rum) and a nice meal, as he usually did. Trying to determine what the Englishman might be thinking about him and French police in general, put him off his game and in a bad mood to boot. That didn’t stop him from solving the case, though.