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For 17 hours M and Lucas have interrogated Carl Anderson, but he is unperturbed, and sticks to his story. He lives near Arpajon with his sister Else Anderson, at the Three Widows Crossroads. His neighbor, Émile Michonnet's new car has been found in Anderson's garage with a dead man, Isaac Goldberg, a diamond merchant of Antwerp, at the wheel. Anderson's old car was found in Michonnet's garage. M goes to the crossroads with Lucas, and interviews Else, who also claims to know nothing. Mme Goldberg comes to Arpajon, but is shot to death before M's eyes, as he goes towards the car. There are only three houses, Anderson's, Michonnet's, and the garage of M. Oscar, who regularly invites M in for a drink, which M as regularly refuses. Carl drives off to Paris in the morning to get his monthly pay, but never appears at his company, and his car is found abandoned near the Belgian border, as if he'd crossed over. Else refuses to believe he's run away, but suggests he may be mad...
That night, Oscar and his wife go to Paris, and M calls in for reinforcements to guard the area. He goes to the garage, and discovers it to be a front for a major fencing operation, and he arrests the mechanic Jojo. A car drives by and shoots at M, who is unhurt. A following car with Inspector Grandjean continues the chase. It was Oscar, his wife, and some other men they'd followed from Paris. M is with Else when another shot rings out, and Carl Anderson is found, wounded twice. He'd been shot in his car that morning, pushed out into the woods, but made his way back, where he was shot again. Else is not in her room... a scream is heard, and she's found in the well with Michonnet, gun in her hand, he choking her. They're all brought into the house, where soon the captured Oscar, Guido Ferrari, an Italian gunman, and the other mechanics are brought.
Else, actually Bertha Krull, and Carl's wife, had arranged with Goldberg to bring stolen jewels to Oscar's, with whom she'd taken up, unknown to Carl. Goldberg was killed, his car hidden, and the switch made to throw suspicion on Carl, who was likely to be arrested or commit suicide. Michonnet had been brought into the gang, seduced by Else, to serve as a signal post for passing trucks and a fence for some of the stolen goods. Ferrari was the killer. All but Carl are arrested, Ferrari sentenced to death. Carl's family have him put in a hospital, but when his mother dies and he inherits, he comes back to Paris to wait the three years for Else's release. "After all, she's my wife..."
Maigret of the Month: March, 2004
Maigret's Journeys in France