It is August and there is no relief from the scorching heat that is melting the tarmac and heating the stonework. It is holiday time and only about a quarter of Parisians have stayed in the city. The streets are being patrolled. Officers have been stationed at all the strategic points. They had already been in position when the second, third, fourth and fifth murders had taken place.

Strangely, all five crimes have been committed in just one of Paris’ 20 arrondissements, the 18th, Montmartre, and what’s more in a very specific area called the Grandes-Carrieres that could be described as being between four Metro stations. The dense streets and alleys make it easier for the killer to strike and then disappear.

Maigret is under immense pressure. The public are panicking, the press is unable to reassure people, the authorities are calling for contradictory measures and Coméliau, the examining magistrate in charge, is on Maigret’s back.

Can Maigret catch the killer before a sixth woman is murdered? Or will the perpetrator never be found, just like London’s “Jack the Ripper”, who was held responsible for at least five of 11 murders committed in the Whitechapel area between 1888 and 1891?

Belgian author Georges Simenon’s “Maigret Sets a Trap” was originally published in France in1955 as “Maigret tend un piege”, with an English translation by Daphne Woodward first appearing 10 years later. This 2017 edition from Penguin Classics is the 48th in a chronological reissue series of all 75 Maigret novels, one a month. All are newly translated by some of the best translators working today, we are reassured.

And so, a desperate Maigret concocts an elaborate do-or-die plan to fool the killer. But first he has to fool the public and the press. Not even all the police know exactly what’s going on. If the scheme fails, the Detective Chief Inspector from the Police Judiciaire on the Quai des Orfevres will likely have a sixth death on his hands.

Maigret is known to millions of readers around the world. He puffs on his pipe, slips into gloomy moods, gets inside the suspects and lets his intuition play with the details. It is a technique that brings him his moment of clarity in this baffling case.

The Simenon/Maigret trademarks are here: the orders for beer and sandwiches from the Brasserie Dauphine when an interrogation is taking place – a non-stop interrogation that could last all night, even 24 hours or longer. Madame Maigret is always in the background with reassurance and sustenance whenever her man manages to get home. Simenon, of course, never misses a chance for a little female thrill: “Maguy’s flowered cotton dress was clinging to her figure, dark patches had appeared under the arms and through the fabric the outline of her bra and panties was visible.”

“Maigret Sets a Trap” finds him on top form, right down to the couple of neat plot twists at the denouement, but of course it would be most imprudent for us to reveal more.

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