Short summary - Maigret Hesitates
The case, which turned out to be extremely painful for Commissioner Maigret, began with an anonymous letter: an unknown person reported that a murder would soon occur. Maigret immediately notices the expensive vellum paper of an unusual size. Thanks to this circumstance, it is possible to quickly find out that the letter was sent from the home of the lawyer Emile Parandon, a specialist in the law of the sea. Making the necessary inquiries, the commissioner finds out that Parandon made a very profitable party: he is married to one of the daughters of Gassin de Beaulieu, the president of the cassation court.
Maigret calls Parandon with a request to meet. The lawyer receives the commissioner with open arms: it turns out that he has long dreamed of discussing with a professional the sixty-fourth article of the criminal code, which defines the sanity of a criminal. Maigret carefully examines the owner of the house: this is a miniature and very mobile man with glasses with thick glasses - in a huge, luxuriously furnished office he looks almost like a dwarf. Parandon instantly recognizes his paper and reads a strange message without showing surprise, but jumps up from his seat when an elegant woman of about forty enters the office completely silently with a tenacious gaze. Madame Parandon burns with a desire to find out the reason for the visit, but the men pretend not to notice it. After she left, the lawyer, without any coercion, talks about the inhabitants of the house and their way of life. The couple have two children: eighteen-year-old Paulette is engaged in archeology, and fifteen-year-old Jacques is studying at the Lyceum. The girl and her brother came up with the nicknames Bambi and Gus. The lawyer is supported by Mademoiselle Bar's secretary, trainee Rene Tortue and young Swiss Julien Baud, who dreams of becoming a playwright, but in the meantime carries out minor assignments. The maid Lisa and the butler Ferdinand live in the house, the cook and the cleaning lady leave in the evening. Parandon gives Maigret complete freedom - all employees will be instructed to openly answer any questions from the commissioner,
Maigret tries not to spread too much about this case. He is a little ashamed for doing trifles. There is no reason to suspect that a drama is brewing in Parandon's house - it looks like everything here is decorous, measured, orderly. Nevertheless, the commissioner again goes to the lawyer. Mademoiselle Vagh answers his questions with restrained dignity. She frankly admits that she and her patron have moments of intimacy, but always in fits and starts, since there are too many people in the house. Madame Parandon, perhaps, knows about this connection - one day she entered her husband's office at a very inopportune moment. The secretary's room is a real walk-through house, and Madame is simply omnipresent. You never know when she will appear - by her order, the floors are everywhere covered with carpets.
A second anonymous letter arrives at the police: an unknown person warns that as a result of the commissioner's awkward actions, a crime can be committed from hour to hour. Maigret meets with the secretary again - he likes this smart, calm girl. She is clearly in love with her patron and believes that he is in danger. The house is run by Madame Parandon. She has a bad relationship with her daughter - Bambi considers his father a victim of his mother. Perhaps there is some truth in this: the Gassins family prevailed over the Parandons - neither relatives nor friends of the lawyer actually come here. Gus adores his father, but hesitates to show his feelings. Maigret becomes more and more anxious. He already knows that their spouses have weapons. Madame Parandon, with whom he has not yet spoken, calls the police herself. She can't wait to enlighten the commissioner about her husband: the unfortunate Emil was born prematurely - he never managed to become a full-fledged person. For twenty years now she has been trying to protect him, but he goes deeper and deeper into himself and completely fenced off from the world. Marriage had to end a year ago - after she found her husband with this girl-secretary. And his manic interest in one of the articles of the criminal code - isn't it psychosis? She felt scared to live in this house.
Maigret meets the lawyer's assistants and servants. Julien Baud claims that everyone knows about the relationship of the patron with Mademoiselle Vagh. She is a very nice girl. The future playwright believes that he is lucky: the married couple of Parandons are ready-made characters of the play. They meet in the corridor like passers-by on the street, and they sit at the table like strangers in a restaurant. Rene Tortue behaves very restrainedly and only notes that in the place of the patron he would lead a more active life. Butler Ferdinand frankly calls Madame Parandon a bitch and a damn cunning woman. The spiritual master was unlucky with her, and talking about his insanity is complete nonsense.
Maigret receives a third message: an anonymous person states that the commissioner actually provoked the murderer. Constant surveillance is established in the house: Inspector Laluente is on duty at night, and Janvier replaces him in the morning. When the bell rings, Maigret involuntarily squeezes his heart. Janvier reports the murder. The Parandon spouses are all right - Mademoiselle Vagh was stabbed to death.
Together with the investigation team, Maigret hurries to a familiar house. Julien Baud is crying, not ashamed of tears, self-confident Rene Tortue is clearly depressed, Madame Parandon, according to the maid, has not yet left the bedroom. It was established that the girl's throat was cut at about half past nine. She knew the killer well, as she continued to work quietly and allowed the sharp knife to be taken from her own table. The commissioner goes to the lawyer - he sits in complete prostration. But when Madame Parandon appears with a plea to confess to the murder, the little lawyer begins stamping his feet in a rage - to the complete satisfaction of his wife.
After she leaves, Gus bursts into the office with the explicit intention of protecting his father from Maigret. The Commissioner had already guessed who the author of the mysterious anonymous letters was - it was a purely boyish idea. After a conversation with Bambi, another assumption of Maigret is confirmed; children are burdened by the way of life that their mother imposes on them. But Bambi, unlike his brother, considers Parandon a rag and dislikes Mademoiselle Bar.
The Commissioner leaves the questioning of Madame Parandon for last. She insists that she took sleeping pills for the night and woke up around twelve. The murder was certainly committed by her husband - this girl was probably blackmailing him. However, he could do this without a reason, for he is obsessed with the fear of illness and death - it is not for nothing that he refuses to deal with people of his circle.
Meanwhile, Inspector Luke interviews the residents of the building across the street. Among them there is a disabled person who sits at the window all day. The living room of the Parandons is perfectly visible from his apartment. Madame left at about half past nine - the maid, busy cleaning, should have seen her. Propped against the wall, Lisa no longer unlocks and asks for forgiveness from the hostess.
Maigret finds a small Browning in a toilet box. When Madame Parandon left, the revolver was in her robe pocket. Most likely, at that moment she was going to shoot her husband, but then another thought occurred to her. By killing the secretary, she could not only stab him, but also incur all suspicion on him. The revolver was not needed, since Antoinette had a sharp knife on her desk to clean up typos.
Having ordered to deliver the suspect to the Orfevre embankment, Maigret again goes to the lawyer - Parandon has a reason to study the sixty-fourth article in more detail. In the car, the commissioner recalls the terrifyingly vague wording: "There is no crime if during the commission of the act the accused was in a state of madness or was forced to do something that he could not resist."