Maigret, assigned for the past month to Rennes to reorganize the Flying Squad [Brigade Mobile], is called to Concarneau, where Mr. Mostaguen, Concarneau's biggest wine dealer, was shot after leaving the Admiral Café. Circumstances make it appear that it was only chance that made him the victim. When Maigret arrives at the Admiral Hotel, and is drinking with the other members of Mostaguen's group, Ernest Michoux, a non-practicing doctor and real estate dealer, notices powder in the drinks which turns out to be strychnine. The next day, Jean Servières, another member, disappears, his blood-stained car found abandoned. Journalists descend on Concarneau, and a vagrant is arrested, a giant bear of a man, but he breaks free. Apparently it is his yellow dog which has been noticed around since the first shooting. Maigret arranges with his assistant, Leroy, to watch a room across the street, where they see the escaped man meet with Emma, the waitress at the hotel. Meanwhile Maigret has had Michoux arrested, apparently to protect him: Yves Le Pommeret, another member of the group, had been found poisoned in his home.
Then there is another shooting, and the customs officer is slightly wounded in the leg. Servières is found in Paris, and brought back to Concarneau, where Maigret arranges a confrontation of all the main characters: Dr. Michoux, Servières, Michoux's mother, who had returned to Concarneau, the giant man, Léon Le Glérec and Emma, who'd been caught at the railroad station, and the mayor, who'd been pressing Maigret for a conclusion. The story went back 5 or 6 years, when Le Glérec had started making payments on his boat, and planned to marry Emma. Michoux, Servières and Le Pommeret had approached him to carry cocaine to America instead of vegetables to England, but when his boat had arrived he'd been immediately arrested. He learned in prison that they'd set him up to receive a bounty on smugglers, and when he was finally released he vowed to have them imprisoned, even if it was for killing him. He'd shown himself to the doctor, who'd tricked Emma into writing a note to meet him at the doorway where Mostaguen was shot by mistake. Michoux had poisoned Le Pommeret when he'd apparently had a change of heart, and Michoux's mother had shot the customs officer to make her son, in jail, appear innocent.
This report prepared by Dana Samson
Alan J. Fisher on 3/23/2014 6:03:10 AM says: Much has been written about Simenon's psychological acuity (Dirty Snow is perhaps his masterpiece in that regard?), but he is also an excellent descriptive writer and one gets a strong vivid impression of a French seaside town of the 1930s from The Yellow Dog. It has a cinematic quality so I am not surprised it was the first Maigret tale to be adapted for the cinema. In terms of its descriptive writing it reminded me of Albert Camus' The Plague, such is the feeling for location of both novels. Part of the pleasure of reading The Yellow Dog is its Hulot's Holiday-like evocation of a vanished France. Classic Simenon!