Maigret is in Tucson, Arizona, on a study-tour of America, guided by his FBI friend Harry Cole, who leaves him one day to watch a coroner's inquest. Five young Air Force men, Sergeant Ward, Sergeant Dan Mullins, Corporal Jimmy Van Fleet, Sergeant Ted O'Neil, and Corporal Wo Lee had gone out drinking and driving one night with a young girl, Bessie Mitchell, whose body had been found the next morning on the tracks, run over by a train. Maigret becomes engrossed in the hearing for the next few days, and successfully predicts the guilty party. The men's stories are often conflicting, as are those of the deputy sheriffs who went to the scene.
The six had driven towards Mexico, but had stopped along the way, and Bessie had gotten out, but didn't return with them. Three of them, Van Fleet, O'Neil and Lee returned by taxi, presumably to search for her, but reported they hadn't found her. In fact, as Van Fleet finally admitted, two of them, Van Fleet and O'Neil had, but when Bessie had figured out O'Neil's plan to share her with Van Fleet she'd gotten angry and run onto the tracks where she'd fallen. O'Neil claimed he left her there in anger and returned with the others when Lee had gotten them a ride. Maigret leaves by plane for Los Angeles without discovering the final results.
This report prepared by Dana Samson