Paris swelters in the heat of August, and Maigret and his colleagues are chasing a brutal murderer who has already killed 5 women. This 1955 story from the Maigret series sets off at a rattling pace, like something from an action thriller, and within a few pages the backstory of the killings have been told, as has Maigret's attempt to lure out the killer by setting a trap.
It's all extremely well-handled by Simenon, and once more the contemporary nature of the book and the issues it raises strike the reader of today. Here, the power of the press is explored, as is the motivations of a killer who is clearly deranged. But what sets it apart is the compasion and understanding that Simenon brings to the story telling.
Today, a serial killer like this would be over-written in fiction; Simenon takes a more gently gently approach, which makes the killer all the more real, and all the more evil when you read about them in the closing sections of the book.
Maigret too is left touched by the case; disappointed and saddened by the depths to which some people can stoop; and he seeks to rebuild his confidence in humanity at the end of the book in a way that is quite touching.
Yet again, proof - if it were needed - that these books are little gems - and have been seriously ignored as little more than pulp titles from an author who seemingly churned them out without much thought. Nothing could be further from the truth!