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M receives a phone call from Mme Lognon that her husband, the Inspector, Old Grouch, has disappeared, and that gangsters have broken into her house. M locates Lognon, and learns that he had seen a body dumped from a car while on a stake-out. When he'd gone to call it in, the body had been picked up by another car and has disappeared. After he checked the registration of the first car, rented by Bill Larner, the gangsters had come to his house and searched it, apparently looking for the body. A call to the US provides the information that Larner, known as Sweet Bill, is a well-known con man. A check of recent arrivals in France turns up Charlie Cinaglia and Tony Cicero, two America gangsters, also from St Louis. Lognon is left to watch Pozzo's restaurant, where they probably have been, but he is captured by them, taken to the countryside and beaten, and left in the woods.
Everywhere M goes he's advised to leave it alone, that American gangsters are out of his field of experience, and he resents it. He publishes the pictures of Cinaglia and Cicero in the papers, and gets a message from a woman, signed Mado. But when he gets to her hotel she is gone, apparently taken away by an unknown man, a tall blond American. M learns from Jimmy MacDonald, his FBI friend in Washington, that the gangsters are probably searching for Sloppy Joe Mascarelli. That was probably who'd been in the hotel with the woman. Both have disappeared. M has Baron, familiar with the race tracks, check at the Manhattan Bar, and when he fails to call in, interviews Luigi the proprieter and gets on the track. He captures Cinaglia and Cicero near the Maisons Laffitte, and finds Mascarelli and the woman at a doctor's in the Boulevard Saint-Michel, along with Harry Pills, an assistant DA from St Louis, who'd come to try and protect his star witness, Mascarelli, who'd run into hiding in France. Cinaglia and Cicero had been sent to kill him.
Maigret of the Month: April, 2007