Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett by Georges Simenon (1931)

The situation was ridiculous. The Superintendent knew there was not one chance in ten that his vigil would lead to any result.

But he stuck to it, because of a vague impression; he could not even have called it a presentiment. It was more like a private theory, which he had never even worked out but which just stuck nebulously at the back of his mind; he called it the theory of the chink.

Every criminal, every gangster, is a human being. But he is first and foremost a gambler, an adversary; that is how the police are inclined to regard him, and as such they usually try to tackle him.

When a crime or felony is committed, it is dealt with on the strength of various more or less impersonal data. It is a problem with one—or more—unknown factors, to be solved, if possible, in the light of reason.

Maigret used the same procedure as anyone else. And like everyone else he employed the wonderful techniques devised by Bertillon, Reiss, Locard, and others, which have turned police work into a science.

But above all he sought for, waited for, and pounced on the chink. In other words, the moment when the human being showed through the gambler.

At the Majestic he had been confronted by the gambler. Here, he sensed a difference. This quiet, neat villa was not one of the pawns in the game that Pietr the Lett was playing. That young woman, and the children Maigret had glimpsed and heard, belonged to an entirely different material and moral universe.

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