It is a long trail for the bloodhounds from the Police Judiciaire at the Quai des Orfevres, taking them first to the dress shop, then they find where she was boarding and discover she had been to a nightclub some time before encountering her killer/s. Next, a call comes in from Detective-Sergeant Féret, of the Nice Flying Squad, who'd worked with Maigret before. He'd received a phone call from a woman who recognised the dead girl's picture in the newspaper report of her murder and who knew her mother.

Now the police know that the mysterious young woman was a provincial who had embarked on a new life in Paris, an adventure that was tragically cut short.

And so it goes, deftly handled by Simenon, who skilfully holds all the threads together as he develops his plot, seemingly off the top of his head. In typical Simenon fashion, Maigret’s efforts to first understand the victim and her troubles are as important as actual clues. There are no obvious suspects for the crime and, as always, it is the character of Inspector Maigret that makes the book, as much as the crime itself.

One aspect of the man (Maigret, not Simenon, though many readers believe that they share characteristics) that comes to the fore here as the investigation takes him to various districts of the capital: Maigret was a prodigious drinker, a trait he certainly shared with his creator. Our dogged chief inspector is rarely known to pass a bar without popping in for a wine or other reviver.

One rather trying aspect of the narrative: fellow inspector Lognon, who has been nicknamed Inspector Hard-Done-By by his colleagues because of his continually feeling sorry for himself. Simenon rather overdoes this, bringing up Lognon’s grievances on every appearance and utterance.

Still it is a pleasure for us – magnifying glass and fingerprint powder at the ready – to follow Maigret as he determinedly tracks down his man.

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