Maigret and the Yellow Dog

Maigret, usually found on the streets of Paris, is introduced to the maritime world of a small coastal town and runs into the same human frailties, the same fears and insecurities that he is famous for uncovering in the big city. Simenon’s mysteries are constructed around the “whys” much more than the “hows": Character study is paramount; motives are the major component of that which is to be unraveled. Although Maigret’s assistant in this case, Inspector Leroy, chases down clues and conducts scientific experiments to solve the mystery, these are not the ways of Maigret. Maigret looks to the human condition through the eyes of what may be called a psychological analyst.

The mayor of Concarneau pressures Maigret to arrest someone--anyone will do--so that the town can get back to normal. The shooting of Monsieur Mostaguen--who is without an enemy in the world--has shocked the quiet town with its misty atmosphere and hushed ways. The Admiral Hotel is the common meeting place for the leading characters in this tale. There is the waitress in the hotel’s cafe, Emma, who is seemingly hiding a past emotional wound which makes her look sad-eyed, and who resigns herself to having affairs with some of the men of the community. There is Doctor Michoux--a doctor only on paper-- who is afraid of something which Maigret will have to uncover before reaching the compelling conclusion. Before the whole story is laid out, one individual dies by poison and another flees to Paris only to be arrested for a past crime he and his cohorts had hoped would stay hidden.

First published in 1931 as LE CHIEN JAUNE and first translated into English in 1940 in THE PATIENCE OF MAIGRET, this novel shows Georges Simenon in top form. His understanding of human motivations and how people become isolated by their fears is extraordinary. Maigret slices away the layers of intrigue, showing what the world of the docks can be like when greed is in control. The reader is presented with the “whys” of the criminal action and the “hows” take their rightful place in the background of this superb psychological mystery.