Maigret, enjoying his retirement, is sunning himself down in Cannes, the guest of Monsieur Louis who is the doorman of a swanky Mediterranean hotel. In the middle of his break, Maigret is interrupted by Louis, who is keen to get his old friend involved in a murder case that's just happened on the floor below.
Louis isn't daft. He knows the ex-inspector isn't in the mood for work and would rather be enjoying the sights and sounds of springtime by the sea. In order to capture his attention, Louis needs to reel him in by dropping points of interest one at a time. It's a great trick, because not only does Maigret become hooked, so does the reader.
Monsieur Owen is a curious man. He's an ageing Swede who wears grey flannel suits and is never seen without a pair of grey gloves covering his hands. He also employs a nurse, an attractive young lady who is staying in the adjoining room. Monsieur Owen seems to have disappeared and in his place is the marked body of a young morphine addict who has been drowned in the bath. The name of the victim is unknown and there's no easy way to identify him.
Maigret paces and smokes and decides to help Louis solve the case as long as neither the press nor the police become aware of what is going on.
There are some nice touches from the experienced master of deduction, as well as a few mis-steps, but eventually he gets to the nub of things and all is revealed.
Hats of to Simenon for this one. Within the space of 50 short pages, a whole murder mystery is built-up, investigated and solved in a way that's engaging and has pace. It's interesting that we get the points of view of the doorman as well as the policeman and the insight in Maigret's retirement is something of a treat.
A cracking start to this collection and I'm looking forward to reading more.