Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Maigret and the Death of a Harbor-Master by Georges Simenon (Harcourt, Brace and Company 1932)

“How’s your investigation getting on?” the mayor inquired.

Maigret made an evasive gesture. He was keeping a hold on himself to prevent his eyes from straying to the door leading into the next room, the drawing-room. The door was vibrating in a most peculiar manner.

“No results, eh?” the mayor continued.

“Nothing, so far.”

“Like to have my opinion? It was a mistake treating this as a complicated case.”

“Obviously,” Maigret grunted. “Clear as daylight, isn’t it? One night a man disappears, and his movements for a month and more cannot be traced. Six weeks later he turns up in Paris. He’s been shot through the head and had his skull patched up. His memory’s gone. He is brought home and poisoned that very night. Meanwhile three hundred thousand francs have been paid into his account, from Hamburg… A simple case! Nothing complicated about it!”

The tone was mild, but now there was no mistaking the Inspector’s meaning.

“Yes, yes… But all the same, it may be simpler than you think. And even supposing there’s some mystery behind it, in my opinion it’s a great mistake to go about creating—deliberately creating—feelings of uneasiness in the village. You know how those men are; they drink like fish, their nerves are none too steady at the best of times. If one keeps harping on such matters in the local bars, it may throw them altogether off their balance.”

He had spoken slowly, emphatically, with a stern look on his face and in the tone of a committing magistrate.

“On the other hand, no attempt has been made to cooperate with the proper authorities. I, the mayor of the town, haven’t a notion what you’re up to, down in the harbor.”

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