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M is at a new little community on the Seine near Poissy, Jeanneville Estates, with Félicie, who had been the housekeeper of Jules Lapie, who'd been murdered. Félicie, 24, acts more like a teenager, and refuses to be of any help whatsoever. Lapie, know as Peg Leg, had been shot in his room. From the evidence he appears to have entertained someone, but Félicie denies that anyone had been there. At the funeral M sees his brother's family and his nephew, Jacques Pétillon. Immediately after the funeral, Félicie eludes Lucas, who M had called up there, and runs to Paris, where Janvier picks up her trail. She'd wandered around Paris trying to shake Janvier, then returned. M put Janvier onto checking into Pétillon, and he had results. Pétillon was clearly a nervous wreck, dashing around, missing work, traveling to Rouen to try and locate a girl, Adèle, at a brothel there. M goes to Montmartre to interrogate Pétillon, but while he is on a corner, bringing him to the Quai des Orfèvres, someone shoots him, and he is taken to Beaujon Hospital in poor condition.
M returns to Jeanneville, after instigating a search of Montmartre, brings Félicie down to Paris to see him. At lunch a man recognizes her, and she slips him a note. M finds the man later and discovers that she had slipped a gun into his pocket on the train while Janvier was tailing her, and the note said not to tell. M returns to Jeanneville to find that Félicie had been hit in the face by a man who'd come to the house to search for something. Meanwhile the identity of Adèle has been discovered, and that of her boyfriend, Albert Babeau, known as the Musician. He'd just gotten out of Santé where he'd been for his part in a robbery murder. M discovers 229,000 francs hidden in the wardrobe in a storeroom of the house. The man had mistaken the wardrobe in Lapie's room for that one. Adèle, actually Jeanne Grosbois, is arrested in a raid on Montmartre, and M captures Babeau, once more trying to break into Lapie's house. Félicie's silence and unhelpfulness is explained: Jacques had let Babeau stay at the house while he'd been staying there for six months, and Babeau had hidden the stolen money in the room, then been arrested. On release Jacques had brought him back, and distracted his uncle while Babeau went up to search. But Lapie had heard a noise and gone up, where Babeau had shot him. Félicie had only seen Jacques, whom she'd assumed had been the killer, as as she was secretly in love with him...
Maigret of the Month: December, 2005