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Joseph Mascouvin reports to the police that he has found a note on a blotter in a café saying that a fortuneteller will be murdered at 5:00, and in fact, Mlle Jeanne is found murdered shortly after. Locked in her kitchen is an old man, Picard, actually her father, who has been masquerading for ten years as Octave Le Cloaguen, so that Mme Antoinette Le Cloaguen can continue to receive the yearly income payable to her husband as long as he lives. Picard had been a tramp in Cannes at the time of Le Cloaguen's death, and Mme Le Cloaguen had spotted him as closely resembling her husband. Jeanne's body was found by Mme. Roy, who kept an inn, the Pretty Pigeon. where M stayed and met Émile Blaise, in fact a most cunning and pitiless blackmailer, using the gangster Justin of Toulons to collect money and get tough with those who didn't pay, and Mascouvin and others to supply him with information others would pay to have kept quiet. Mascouvin read his firm's letters, and copied out anything of value. Mlle Jeanne had access to people's secrets, and was another informer. Justin had spotted Picard at Jeanne's, followed him home, and set up the blackmail of Mme Le Cloaguen. Jeanne (Marie Picard) had no doubt found out, worried for her father, and perhaps threatened to give the game away. It was decided to ask Mme Le Cloaguen for an entire year's annuity, and for Justin to kill Mlle Jeanne at 5:00. Mascouvin had known, perhaps been told to frighten him, but feeling guilty, had stumbled on a way to notify the police.
Maigret of the Month: November, 2005