A body is found in the Bois de Boulogne, face bashed in and in an unnatural position. Fumel, acting on instinct, calls Superintendant Maigret even though it’s against current procedural policy.
Maigret knows the victim, but is unable to take an active role because he’s investigating a series of armed robberies in his beloved Paris. His curiosity, however, has been sparked and he can’t help becoming involved. He immerses himself in the world of the victim (the Swiss, Honore Cuendet). Maigret’s affection and respect for the dead burglar grow as he learns more about the victim’s solitary, self-contained lifestyle.
With typical attention to detail, old-fashioned police work and the odd slice of good fortune, both cases are eventually solved, though only one is taken to its full conclusion.
The beauty of Idle Burglar lies in the revealing insights into Maigret’s feelings. As an old man, he’s acutely aware of the changes in the world of the police and in his city. The vulnerability this creates allows him to take chances and set about pleasing himself more than ever: he shares information with his wife; leaves the office whenever he pleases; and shows real tenderness to Cuendet’s mother and respect and friendship to his long-term colleagues. These dimensions add a little extra to the usual Simenon and place this right at the top of the Maigret tree.
And if there ever was a book to get you hankering of a simple life of wine sipping and world watching, this is probably it.