He's not particularly happy doing the tedious administrative chore he has been working on for the past few weeks, to reorganise the police force, but that's not the reason. Nor is it because his friend, Doctor Pardon, has advised him to take care of his liver, and while Pardon didn't actually ban Maigret from having an aperitif, the Detective Chief Inspector has been sticking to weeks of near total abstinence.

We who are well versed in Maigret's tendency to down quite a few during an investigation could readily accept that this enforced temperance might put a damper on the great man's mood – but it isn't that either. It is early June in Paris and it is hot after a dismal spring, and quiet with people going away early to avoid the crush of July and August; potential for more tedium, then, but still not enough to rouse Maigret's ire – yet.

Now, after a fortnight without missing a single meal at home with Madame Maigret in the Boulevard Richard-Lenoir or being disturbed by an urgent phone call in the evening or night, up springs the inevitable case, and it has the smell of murder about it. Maigret has decided to pop into the Brasserie Dauphine for a quick one – Dr Pardon notwithstanding – and his colleague Lucas introduces him to Antonio Farano, whose brother-in-law Émile Boulay has disappeared.

Boulay owns night-clubs in Montmartre and on the Champs-Élysées, an occupation that can attract gang violence. But Boulay isn't part of the underworld. He is reputable and well-liked with no enemies. He even keeps his books in order and pays his taxes like a conscientious citizen. Two days later his body is found dumped in Rue Rondeaux near Père Lachaise cemetery. Oddly, he'd been strangled soon after disappearing and his body kept concealed somewhere before being found.

Maigret knows from long experience that members of the underworld – mobsters – usually don't strangle people, they shoot or knife them. Likewise, another piece of gangland wisdom is that professional criminals leave their victims where they kill them. There isn't a single case in the archives of a mobster keeping a body in his home or wherever for three nights and two days before tossing it on a pavement somewhere.

The murder finally gives the Detective Chief Inspector an excuse to put aside his administrative work for a moment but he is quickly stumped, leaving him more frustrated than angry. He visits the dead man's family, talks to the nightclubs' staff and Boulay's accountant but there are no real clues or suspects. As Simenon recounts, Maigret isn't following any fixed plan. He doesn't have any ideas. He is a bit like a gundog running around, sniffing left and right.

A doorman at the Lotus nightclub, Mickey Boubée, the last man to see Boulay alive, has recalled that on the night he disappeared he had been walking down the Rue Pigalle. Maigret realises that this is the direction of the home of his lawyer, Jean-Charles Gaillard, in Rue La Bruyere, barely 500 metres from the Lotus. You just had to go down Rue Pigalle, cross Rue Notre Dame de Lorette and turn left a little further down the hill. It could be the lead Maigret is looking for.

Finally, as he gets to the bottom of the mystery, we learn that Maigret is not simply angry, he is steam-from-the-ears livid. He discovers that Gaillard has been taking money from various clients with the promise that he can bribe Maigret and get them off their charges. When Maigret learns that his spotless reputation of decades has been endangered, he confronts Gaillard but won't let him utter a word in defence. Maigret's on the verge of bashing him.

When Gaillard is locked up, Maigret doesn't trouble to order him handcuffed or to take away his tie, belt and laces. That evening, when he gets home a little late, Madame Maigret notices that his eyes are strange and there is alcohol on his breath.

After a restless night, Maigret returns to his office next day to the news that the lawyer has hanged himself in his cell. The crafty Simenon offers the hint that Maigret might well have guessed this would happen and, after it does, he quickly puts it behind him and slips back into his daily routine...

Readers will discover for themselves why Boulay was murdered. Along the way are some typical Simenon observations: at the morgue, "the glossy walls were bare. Maigret had often wondered what sort of paintings or prints they could have put on them"; and in a nightclub in the daytime, "There was a lingering smell of champagne and tobacco and a broken glass was still lying in one corner, near the band's instruments in their covers... It was as depressing as a beach resort in winter, with its shuttered holiday houses and casinos".

Of course, the nightclub setting allows Simenon to make a swift mention of the women undressing in their changing room, making no attempt to hide their bare breasts (we'd be most disappointed in Georges if he didn't get a bit of titillation in there somewhere).


Penguin Books is republishing all 75 "Maigrets" one a month in chronological order in new translations of the original French. "Maigret's Anger" is the November 2018 reissue, and number 61. The novel was first published in French as "La Colere de Maigret" in 1963. A previous English translation was titled "Maigret Loses His Temper." It's not to be confused with "Maigret Gets Angry"/"Maigret se fache", published in 1945 and number 26 in the series.


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