Thursday, December 06, 2007

Lunchtime read: The Madman of Bergerac

This is one of the Maigret books that was written much earlier on than The Idle Burglar but ironically after an initially bit of bravery throwing himself off a train Maigret spends his time bed bound with a wounded shoulder.

The story starts to unfold almost immediately with the detective heading off on his holidays to see an old colleague who has based himself out in the country. On the way there he moves into a second class sleeper and is so disturbed by the man weeping and fidgeting in the bunk above he is awake when the man jumps off the train.

Maigret follows him and after scrambling up from his fall down the bank he is rewarded with a bullet in the shoulder and a trip to hospital. The immediate suspicion for a couple of murders that have happened in the woods near where Maigret was picked up falls on the detective. But he is able to come round and quickly inform them that he is not the ‘madman of Bergerac.

Once patched up he moves into the hotel looking over the town square and starts to irritate and infuriate the local gentry – doctor, public prosecutor and chief of police – by investigating the crimes of the mad man of Bergerac.

Even his old police colleague comes in for suspicion and by the time he has staged a reception in the hotel to gather evidence from public witnesses there is no one amongst the town leaders who would not like to see the back of Maigret.

More tomorrow…

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