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Mystery Monday Review – Maigret Goes Home

Maigret Goes Home by Georges Simenon

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

In this 1931 mystery, in the Quai des Orfèvres our favorite Chief Inspector accidentally comes across an anonymous note, “A crime will be committed at the church of Saint-Fiacre during the first Mass of the Day of the Dead.” The message was received by the police of Moulins, who shrugged – no doubt in a Gallic way – and passed it on to the Police Judiciaire de Paris.

Since Maiget spent his childhood at Saint-Fiacre, in the Allier, his curiosity is stirred and he goes immediately to the chateau, where his father had served as the loyal steward. Maigret attends the Mass in which the note forecasts the crime. Sure enough, the Countess of Saint-Fiacre dies of apparent heart failure.

The local doctor finds that the death of the countess was brought on by violent emotion. Maigret finds in the Countess’ missal a clipping from the Journal de Moulins announcing the death of Maurice de Saint-Fiacre, her son and heir. The latter had just arrived from Paris to the village, where he intended to sponge money off his mother to pay his copious debts. If the check bounces, it’s the clink.

The inquiry, conducted at the castle, at the village and at Moulins, takes place in a somber heart-rending atmosphere from the get-go. Maigret returns to the village of his childhood, with an aura of nostalgia. But it soon dawns on him that things have changed for the worse in the past thirty -five years.

The estate is no more than a shadow of what it was at the time when the Maigret’s father was serving it. The countess has sold off three of the four farms, since the death of the Comte de Saint-Fiacre. She has had to cover the profligate the investments and expenses of her son Maurice. The countess has allowed herself to be exploited by many “secretaries” who have been lovers. The last of these, Jean Métayer, feeling suspected and vulnerable, appeals to a provincial lawyer whose manner and way of speaking get up Maigret’s nose.

Upsetting somebody to death with a fake clipping is not a crime for the courts. But all agree that is was a disgusting moral offense. Maigret talks to people to get a bead on the milieu, as usual. Maurice de Saint-Fiacre, however, the day after the death, gathers all the suspects in a room.

 

 

 

 

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