GEORGES SIMENON – Maigret and the Gangsters. Inspector Maigret #39. Harcourt, US, hardcover, 1986. First published in the UK by H. Hamilton, hardcover, 1952. Reprinted in the US by Harcourt, hardcover, 1954, as Inspector Maigret and the Killers. Translation of Maigret, Lognon et le Gangsters (Paris, 1952). Film: Comacico, France, 1963, as Maigret Veit Rouge (“Maigret Sees Red”).

   Madame Longon, the semi-invalid wife of a policeman nicknamed “the Old Grouch” asks Maigret to help when her home is visited twice in three days by American gangsters. She’s been in phone contact with her husband, but hasn’t actually seen him since the Bad Guys came calling.

   Maigret finally talks to Longan and learns that a few nights earlier, the Old Grouch saw a body dumped from a car. But as he was calling in to report it, the body was spirited away. With nothing to back up his story, Longon has been investigating on his own and learned the identity of the killers — who have, in turn, learned his.

   When Maigret takes over the investigation, he is warned off by a restauranteur, who knows the Americans, and even a friend in the FBI cautions he may be in over his head. Maigret takes the warnings as an insult to the French Police and determines not only to catch the killers, but also to learn who it was that retrieved the body.

   One of the many novels written during Simenon’s American sojourn, this is up to his usual standard, with believable characters and perhaps a little more detective work than usual.

— Reprinted from A Shropshire Sleuth #66, July 1994.