This summer, my blog didn’t see much action. I’ve been busy making summer plans, and then away – but now I’m finally back from a wonderful vacation in Mexico City, I’m so ready to get back into the groove. While I have a ton of books waiting to be read, I wanted to go with something short to get me started. And one can always count on Inspector Maigret novels to fit that bill!
Maigret and the Tramp finds Chief Inspector Maigret near Pont Marie bridge one fine morning. The police and the prosecutors are called to interview a barge skipper who had saved the life of a drowning vagrant from river Seine the previous night. According to this Flemish skipper, the drifter was probably attacked and thrown into the river by two men he saw fleeing in a red car. But for the life of him, Maigret can’t fathom why anyone would want to hurt a beggar. So he is determined to get to the bottom of this case, even though he knows that the prosecutors and the public won’t deem it important enough.
Maigret and the Tramp is a classic example of what sets Jules Maigret apart from other popular fictional sleuths. Maigret has quite a compassionate side, and his status doesn’t refrain him from connecting with people, even if they are homeless folks. I know Sherlock Holmes stories have also occasionally featured a group of street urchins, but this is something different – for Holmes, these children were intelligent agents, and we don’t get to see their plight. But here, as Maigret uncovers the past of the victim known as “Doc,” we see Maigret empathizing with the man, understanding where Doc is coming from, to an extent where he respects the decisions made by Doc:
‘Do you still have any hope of getting a confession?’
‘None at all,’ Maigret admitted.
‘The tramp will maintain his silence?’
‘I’m convinced he will.’
‘Why do you think he has chosen to react in this way?’
That was harder to explain, especially to people who had never known the small world of those who live under bridges.
‘Yes, for what reason?’ the deputy prosecutor cut in. ‘I mean, he almost died. In my opinion, he ought to…’
In the opinion of a deputy prosecutor, who probably lived in an apartment in Passy with his wife and children, organized weekly bridge parties and was concerned about his own advancement and how much he earned compared with the others.
Not in the opinion of a tramp.
‘After all, there is something called justice.’
Indeed there was. But those who are not afraid to sleep under bridges in the middle of winter, wrapped in old newspapers to keep warm, didn’t bother with that kind of justice.
So for me, the bond between Maigret and Doc was entrancing, and even though the perpetrator doesn’t end up behind bars in Maigret and the Tramp, it was an enjoyable read. 3 stars.
Note: Many thanks to Penguin for sending me a review copy of Maigret and the Tramp.