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M is alerted by Interpol to the iminent arrival of Pietr the Lett, international criminal. Armed with a detailed description, he goes to the Gare du Nord to meet the train, and sees Pietr depart for the Majestic Hotel. But almost immediately a body is discovered in the toilet of the car he had ridden in, of a man who also appears to fit the description. In the pocket of the dead man is an envelope containing a lock of hair, and the police lab is able to supply M with the name and address of the photographer who took the picture that had been for years in the same envelope. Pietr had lunched with Mr. & Mrs. Mortimer-Levingston at the Majestic, but almost immediately afterwards disappears.
M leaves Torrence at the Majestic and heads off to Fécamp, where he discovers the house of Mme Berthe Swaan. Staking out the house he follows a man, (Fedor Yurovich) apparently a Russian, to a bar where he drinks to excess, and then back to Paris, where he resides at a seedy hotel in the Jewish quarter with his girlfriend, Anna Gorskin. Leaving a man to watch their hotel, M follows the Mortimer-Levingstons that evening, and is shot in the chest by an unknown assailant when he leaves the club they had stopped in. Relatively unhurt, M rushes back to the Majestic, where he discovers that Torrence has been killed, stabbed in the heart with a needle. Quickly realizing who had done the killing, M traces the dancer at the club who'd tipped him off, but soon he too is found dead.
Anna Gorskind is in the vicinity of the Majestic with a gun, and Pietr has reappeared. Mrs. Mortimer-Levingston leaves for Berlin, and the stage is set for the confrontation. M stalks Pietr unceasingly, dogging his steps until his calm starts to shatter. His two personas, the slovenly Russian drunkard and the elegant man of the world start to mingle and collapse. The final confrontation appears to be in Pietr's hotel room, when Mortimer-Levingston bursts in and dashes out again, to be shot by Anna. In the confusion Pietr disappears, and M returns to Fécamp, where he finds him for the final time, allowing him to commit suicide rather than face arrest. Pietr had in fact been Pietr's twin brother Hans, who had always played second fiddle, but had decided to kill his brother and take his place.
Maigret of the Month: July, 2004