BOOK REVIEW: MY FRIEND MAIGRET
Originally published in 1949, My Friend Maigret finds Inspector Maigret suffering the pains of being known across the continent for his savvy police work. It seems that while visiting the Lord Mayor of London, Paris's Chief of Police found many in Scotland Yard marveling at the great detective work done by Jules Maigret. And so when leaving London, the Chief of Police invited a representative from Scotland Yard to come and observe Maigret at work. Thus enters Inspector Pyke, of Scotland Yard, into Maigret's life. Pyke arrives from London prepared to observe and learn from the great Inspector Maigret much the way a serious student starts a new semester. Maigret soon finds that although Pyke is ever so polite, it is awkward to have someone watching and analyzing his every move.
So when a case comes up which causes him to have to go south to an Mediterranean island, Maigret hopes to finally have a break from his “shadow.” Alas, no such luck. A small time thug with a line of penny ante crimes on his record is murdered shortly after having boasted that he was friends with the famous Inspector Maigret. When found dead, a letter written by Maigret to a woman was found on the man's boat. These two facts raise the possibility that Maigret himself might be the actual target and the man's murder was a way to get to Maigret.
When Maigret, with Pyke still with him, arrives to start the investigation, he finds that while many people know the murdered man, no one really has any reason to want him dead. But then Maigret begins to find that nearly everyone involved has some sort of secret buried in his or her life. How these secrets and the dead man are connected make for a very interesting case.
Simenon uses the visiting Scotland Yard Detective Pyke to contrast Inspector Maigret's informal manner of uncovering the truth from the expected “correct investigative procedures” of the British. The reader is inside Maigret's mind while he begins to act on reflex and then second guesses himself as to whether the visiting Pyke would be shocked or offended by Maigret's actions. This adds some comic relief to the book while making Maigret an even more likable character.
REVIEWED BY CARYN ST. CLAIR
Thanks for visiting!