There can't be many Maigret novels that qualify as serial killer novels...are there? Anyway, whatever - this one is amazing.
I kept flashing back to that Tey novel - The Daughter of Time - where the dude solves a Mystery lying in bed, workin' it out. We get that here; Maigret has leaped off a train after seeing a weirdo leap off a train, and he gets shot, and he ends up in hospital right around where the 'Madman of Bergerac' has been operating - killing women (one eyewitness/survivor). Madame Maigret is around to do footwork, which was a pleasant surprise...suddenly I was out of the Tey novel and thinking instead of Archie Goodwin. As things progress...well who knew that trying to figure out whether one has actually been shot by a local serial murderer could lead to meeting a parade of locals who all seem like they are trying to hide something?!
Simenon ticks his way through his boxes, and tries to get the reader to think outside them. I loved the solution to everything strange or suspicious that takes place throughout the novel, or comes up as backstory dragged kicking and screaming into the light. The ending is full-on tragedy - a noose tightens and it has caught some extra necks (the price of being too near, and keeping secrets no matter what the hell horrible crap is resulting). As usual, in the good ones from the series - and when they are focused on some kind of a long-lasting puzzle, which some of them are not - a reader gets to sit back and say "you got a lot done in a very small slice of pages, dude". You never have to worry about padding; there's flip-book Mysteries, and then there's the Maigret books. I'm not sure this is a "clues" book in the way one might think - it's more like I understood how Maigret could hear about, or experience, some things around him, hear also about what had already happened (even some "ancient history"), look at who was behaving how, and then explain how it all fits together. While heading towards this, the characters come to life, the story is always entertaining - and in this case, often very suspenseful.
Highly recommended...as one to pick leading up to Halloween, or maybe as one to pick first, or just a great one to pick when intimidated over how many there are with tempting covers (among the latest editions; I gotta say, I like that little room, and the wallpaper...).
One question: did I miss the part where it's actually being kind of offensive?