Friday, July 1, 2016

Maigret and the Reluctant Witnesses

Maigret and the Reluctant Witnesses - Georges Simenon

ISBN-10: 0156551594

A century-old family firm once rolled in profits from manufacturing biscuits that Maigret remembers as having tasted of cardboard. Times and public tastes have inevitably changed. The firm should have gone out of business long-ago but for infusions of cash from heiresses the sons of the family have married.

But one night the eldest son, head of the family is murdered in his bed.

When Maigret comes in to investigate he has to fight three problems. The family puts up a wall of silence. Though no charges are pressing, they hire an obnoxious lawyer who seizes every chance to get in Maigret’s face. A young whippersnapper of an examining magistrate involves himself too deeply in the investigation and actually wants to supervise Maigret, who is only two years from retirement.

Generally the mystery is dusty in atmosphere and dour in tone, but the black sheep daughter of the family provides lively relief and not just because she works dressed in a dinner jacket and monocle in nightclub for women of Sapphic and cross-dressing inclinations. While worrying about his advancing age (a marker of the late Maigret novels of the 1960s), Maigret gets to the bottom of the mess.

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