Friday 10 December 2021


The Men At The Grand Cafe is the second story in the collection Death Threats (and other stories). It follows on from the excellent opener in that it reveals something more of Maigret's life in retirement. 

He and his wife have settled down in Meung-sur-Loire. 

Before I'd heard of Maigret, I spent a couple of weeks on a French school trip in Meung, camping in moth-eaten tents, balancing precariously over squat toilets and stuffing down baguettes for lunch. I have fond memories of the holiday- unrequited love, chateaus, red wine, outdoor pools, pogo dancing and aniseed drinks are the things that come to mind. 

Maigret didn't have as much fun as I did. He's doubting the move from Paris and is lacking focus. The chance to join a daily card game arrives and he goes along without enthusiasm. Though he dislikes the setup and despises himself for falling into such a mundane lifestyle, the routine suits him and fills some holes in his life. 

And then the butcher meets his end. The case has murder written all over it and the local police get involved. Maigret, in a similar way to story one, refuses to take on the case. Instead, he gets grumpy, listens to the outpourings of those who are in the card-playing circle and who hang around at the bar where the game resides and then attends the butcher's funeral. 

To my mind, this one's very disappointing. 

The case isn't of interest, the tales of the local folk are dull and witnessing the great inspector sink into despair and purposelessness is difficult to do. It's not always clear who is speaking and there are lots of unfinished sentences to jar and irritate.

Not for me.    

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