Monday, October 08, 2012

Maigret at the Crossroads by Georges Simenon (Penguin Books 1931)

When Maigret came back into the kitchen, Monsieur Oscar was ostentatiously rubbing his hands.

‘You know, I must say that I’m enjoying this… Because I know the ropes, of course. Something happens at the crossroads …There are only three sets of people living here… Naturally you suspect all three… Yes, you do! Don’t play the innocent… I saw straight away that you didn’t trust me and that you weren’t keen on having a drink with me… Three houses… The insurance agent looks too stupid to be capable of committing a crime… The lord of the manor is a real gent…So there’s nobody left but yours truly, a poor devil of a workman who’s managed to become his own boss but doesn’t know how to behave in polite society… A former boxer!… If you ask them about me at the Police Headquarters, they’ll tell you that I’ve been picked up two or three times in raids, because I used to enjoy going to the rue de Lappe to dance a Java, especially in the days when I was a boxer… Another time I gave a poke in the kisser to a copper who was annoying me…Bottoms up, Chief-Inspector!’

‘No, thanks.’

‘You aren’t going to refuse! A blackcurrant liqueur never hurt anybody… You know, I like to put my cards on the table… It got on my nerves seeing you snooping round my garage and looking at me on the sly… That’s right isn’t it, ducks? Didn’t I say as much to you last night?… The Chief-Inspector’s there! Well, let him come in! Let him rummage around all over the place!… Let him search me! And then he’ll have to admit that I’m a good chap as honest as the day is long… What fascinates me about this story is the motors… Because when all’s said and done, it’s all a matter of motors…’