The weather is terrible, half of Maigret’s staff is sick and even his wife can’t sleep because of a bad toothache. A fifty-one year old English tourist is missing. In her room are a number of gin bottles. If that’s not enough Maigret gets a visit from Ferdinand Fumal. He was a schoolmate of Maigret’s when they were eight years old. Maigret never liked him. It’s starting out to be a bad time for the Inspector.
Fumal says he contacted the Minister of the Interior and he was assured that Maigret would take care of him. Fumal is head of Union Butchers, a company that has driven a lot of small butchers out of business and made Fumal very rich. He shows Maigret a number of letters threatening his life and demands protection.
Not long after he leaves, his private secretary of three years comes by. Fumal doesn’t know she’s there. She tells Maigret that Fumal wrote the letters himself. She says he likes to do things like that so he can falsely accuse employees of wrong doing just to be nasty. Maigret visits Fumal’s wife who doesn’t have a clue about anything. She’s too busy drinking. Fumal comes home and gets angry at Maigret for talking to her. Maigret promises twenty-four hour protection. Fumal wants it to start the next morning.
Maigret gets a call from the Inspector assigned to protect Fumel. No need for protection. Fumal’s been shot dead at point blank range. The suspect list is big since Fumel was universally despised. One high on the list has committed suicide.
Looks like Maigret is set up for a double failure.
The solution to one case has a sense of humor about it while the other stretches credibility. Still it’s a good, fast paced read as you follow Maigret’s frustrations in trying to solve the murder while the missing person is put on the back burner.