Maigret is requested by the Director to handle the murder of an ex-Foreign Ministry official, Comte Armand de Saint-Hilaire, who had retired 12 years earlier, found shot in his study, by his housekeeper of 42 years, Jaquette Larrieu. His death coincides with the funeral of Prince Hubert de Vth, of one of the great French familes. Prince Hubert's wife, Princess Isabelle de Vth, had been a lifelong friend of Saint-Hilaire's — they'd intended to marry, but circumstances weren't apt, and she'd married Prince Hubert. They'd maintained a life-long correspondence, and everyone had known the romantic story that they intended to marry at the death of Prince Hubert. Saint-Hilaire had no enemies, and there was no sign of forced entry. All of the people connected were old and noteworthy.
After reading Isabelle's letters to Saint-Hilaire, and interviewing everyone concerned, Maigret is at a loss. However, Maigret has Moers administer a paraffin test to Jaquette, and to everyone's shock, it is positive. She refuses to say anything until she confers with a priest. Saint-Hilaire had committed suicide, and when she'd found the body she'd been afraid he wouldn't be able to receive the last blessing of the Church, and so she'd made it look like a murder. Maigret learned from his "nephew", actually Isabelle's grandson, that he believed he had a terminal disease, and so killed himself from fear of subjecting Isabelle a life of caring for him as an invalid.
This report prepared by Dana Samson