Man, that Madame Maigret is some kind of saint. They were all packed for their annual holiday in Alsace, where Madame could reconnect with family and spend the time making preserves and brandies. Then Maigret got a letter from a boyhood friend, beseeching him to help a young former student of his who was accused of murder. Just like that, the Alsace sojourn is cancelled as they schlep off to some crappy little fishing village on the coast of the Atlantic.
The captain of the Ocean is strangled and tossed overboard after the ship returned to port and the young telegraph operator is charged with his death. In the Grand Banks Café, the sailors drink and fight and recount how the whole voyage was doomed, cursed even. The young ships boy was washed overboard 3 days into the trip to Newfoundland’s Grand Banks for cod fishing. Various mysterious things arise and the tension and paranoia ratchet out of control. By the time the boat is back in harbor, the catch is already spoiling and there is near mutiny as the sailors flee the ship to seek solace in alcohol. Even more mysterious is how uncooperative the murder suspect is as Maigret takes on the case in an informal capacity, working to find a handhold in this secretive tight-knit community.
I really enjoyed Maigret’s ruminations on passion and human nature as he doggedly (and grumpily) got to the truth of things. And I didn’t blame him one bit when he opted to hire a car rather than wait for the next train out of that place.