- File Size: 406 KB
- Print Length: 160 pages
- Publisher: Penguin (February 6, 2014)
Originally published 1931
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0141393467
- ISBN-13: 978-0141393469
- ASIN: B00GPBQTBC
- #4 in the Maigret series
- Translated by David Coward
- Also published as LOCK 14
What was the woman doing here? In a stable, wearing pearl earrings, her stylish bracelet and white buckskin shoes! She must have been alive when she got there because the crime had been committed after ten in the evening.
But how? And why? And no one had heard a thing! She had not screamed. The two carters had not woken up.
Inspector Maigret is standing in the pouring rain by a canal. A well-dressed woman, Mary Lampson, has been found strangled in a stable nearby. Why did her glamorous, hedonistic life come to such a brutal end here? Surely her taciturn husband Sir Walter knows - or maybe the answers lie with the crew of the barge La Providence.
This novel was one of a number that Simenon wrote after spending 6 months on French canals in 1928.
In the setting he captures a life style now long gone, when the canal boats and barges played an important role in transporting goods to the major ports in France.
It also captures the rural isolation of many of the towns that the canals connected: the first murder scene is along a tow path, several kilometres from the nearest major town. Maigret has to walk there, and then manages to acquire a bicycle which he uses to travel up to 70 kilometres a day. Most of the boats are horsedrawn, with the horses stabled on the boats themselves. The days are long, beginning well before dawn, and finishing only at sunset. At one lock there are more than 60 barges waiting to go through. There's a glimpse too of the future, with motorised pleasure boats, taking preference over working boats at the locks.
The murderer in this story was convicted nearly thirty years before, of the murder of his aunt, and paid the penalty with transportation to French Guiana. There he shook off his former identity, and returned to France to a new life as a labourer. A chance meeting at a junction of canals leads to another murder. Maigret's intuition puts scattered bits of evidence together.
My rating: 4.3
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4.2, THE MAN WHO WATCHED THE TRAINS GO BY