Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


YESTERDAY, WE MET Parisian Police detective Maigret, who had an evidently well-paid literary agent in Georges Simenon, what with Maigret’s 103 adventures chronicled between 1931 and 1972. Today in Part 2, we learn about the philosophy of Maigret’s profession and his encounter with the Pole, Mona Lisa, and a mysterious fellow investigator.

Our primary source is Julian Symons’ book Great Detectives: Seven Original Investigations.

Maigret’s Detective Philosophy. Symons says, “When asked about his methods, Maigret always said that he had none. He had knowledge, not method, and based himself on that knowledge. Mostly it was right, occasionally wrong.”

I’m reminded of “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches,” when Holmes says to Watson, “Data! Data! Data! I can’t make bricks without clay.”

Maigret, the Pole, and Mona Lisa. Symons describes Maigret’s adventure with the Pole, a notorious purveyor of stolen goods. “The Pole did not get his name from his nationality, for he was French, but because he was as long, thin and straight as a telegraph pole. He had an apartment in the Rue Jacob where he lived quietly with his mistress, a young woman whose beautiful but expressionless features led her to be called the Mona Lisa.”

“Maigret waved for a cab…. He gave the man the Rue Jacob address.” This and the following illustrations by Tom Adams in Great Detectives.

This turns out to be a wild goose chase initiated by the Mona Lisa, but Maigret accepts this and picks up the scent at a horsemeat butcher’s shop. (The Pole had once told him “that horsemeat was more tender and had more flavour than the finest beef.”)

The Pole leaves the horsemeat butcher’s, then secrets his newspaper-wrapped bundle with the greengrocer. He’s being tailed by Maigret—and by a mysterious stranger.

“In a few moments it was over…. Maigret delved into the bundle of old papers, and found a large sealed envelope. He growled at the Pole. ‘You will all come to headquarters.’ ”

Clues About That Mysterious Stranger. Symons says that the stranger, a little man, “drew himself up: ‘I am a consulting detective. The greatest in the world.’ He proffered a card which Maigret took. The name meant nothing to him.”

Back at the Bureau, the stranger explains, “I was asked by the highest State authority in Belgium to discover the whereabouts of certain missing documents.”

Symons says, “The little man put his head on one side, which was a way he had. ‘I can give no details, but they come from the Ministry of Defence. It was a simple matter for me, using my little grey cells….’ ”

In parting, “The little man, head to one side, a gleam of amusement in his green eyes, said: ‘It has been a privilege to meet you, Chief-Inspector, and to see your methods.’ ” Maigret says he had no methods. He had “simply known….”

Maigret and Madame. She has been reading a book: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.]

Symons says, “The face that looked up at him from the cover, apparently that of the investigating detective as the artist had imagined it, seemed vaguely familiar, like a caricature of somebody he had met.”

Zut alors! ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2020

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