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M is taking a trip to Villefranche-en-Dordogne, to visit his old friend Leduc. At the same time he can go to Bordeaux, and take care of some business. Mme M is in Alsace, where her sister is having her third baby. M takes the bottom bed in a 2nd class sleeping car, but is kept awake but the man above. In the morning the man gets up to go, and M notices he's about to jump off the train. Without thinking, M follows, also jumping off the train. When he yells to the man, he shoots M in the shoulder. M makes his way to a farm, and wakes up in a hospital in Bergerac, where it's been assumed he's the Madman of Bergerac, who'd already strangled two women to death, and then stabbed them through the heart with a needle. Leduc comes to his rescue, but he'll have to spend two weeks recuperating. He gets moved to a hotel, the Hôtel d'Angleterre, and Mme M comes to care for him. She finds a 2nd class train ticket, Paris-Bergerac under the mat of the door, and M pursues the investigation from his bed, believing that one of his visitors is the killer.
After various interviews, a dead man is found in the forest, shot through the head, the man from the train. He'd been dead a week, though the same day the doctor, Jacques Rivaud's sister-in-law, Françoise Beausoleil, had claimed to have been attacked. The man's identity is Samuel Meyer, presumed killed in a hospital fire in Algiers years earlier. He'd been awaiting a death sentence for murdering two men, his agents in a document forging business under the cover of a postage-stamp dealer's. M learns from Germaine Rivaud, the doctor's wife, that they'd met in Algiers. M has Mme M check the French universities, and learns that no Jacques Rivaud had ever qualified. He places an ad in the papers, bringing Françoise Beausoleil's mother, Joséphine Beausoleil to Bergerac.
While he is interviewing her, Jacques Rivaud and his sister-in-law try to escape, but Leduc stops them. They run to a hotel room, locked themselves in, and committed suicide. Samuel Meyer had been Rivaud's father. He'd saved him by setting fire to the hospital, and identifying a dead body as his. He'd married one of the patients in the ward, Germaine, and with her mother and sister, returned to Europe with his father, whom he'd sent to America. Changing his name, he'd moved to Bergerac, and set up his mother-in-law in Bordeaux. His father had returned to France, after killing two women the same way in America, and started his mad killing again when he visited Bergerac. Somehow the Public Prosecutor, Duhourceau, had caught on, so Rivaud had arranged for him to think his sister-in-law was having his child, thus keeping him quiet.
Maigret of the Month: April, 2005