Inspector Jules Maigret doesn’t deduce the solution to a crime, nor does he merely discover it. He midwifes it into being. His famously intuitive method, which combines brute patience with an almost occult sympathy for quirks of the human heart, here finds an apt venue in which to flourish along a canal that winds from Paris out to the River Marne. Under the shroud of a neverending fog, in a horse stable near a tow path, a pair of barge laborers stumble upon the dead body of a woman. It’s an odd place for such a corpse; dressed in the latest fashion, the body plainly belonged to a woman of leisure. Soon enough, Maigret establishes that she had come through the canal on a yacht owned by her husband, an English toff with an arrogant curl to his stiff upper lip. Someone strangled her, and the husband looms as a prime suspect. But Maigret, before he can apprehend a culprit, must get to know the entire mise en scène of the crime—the half-land, half-“sea” world of the canal and its numbered locks, where a vagabond way of life allows for many chance encounters, and where a slow-rolling passion can undergo a sudden, violent jolt.
GEORGES SIMENON. The Crime at Lock 14 (1931).