A compelling story, first published in 1931, in which Inspector Maigret is mostly an onlooker. This time out, he is the village of Saint-Fiacre, where his late father once managed the chateau estates of Count and Countess de Saint-Fiacre, a job now filled by Monsieur Gautier, whose clever son Emile works in the local bank. The Count has died; the Countess, despite a heart condition and her devotion to the church, has taken in a succession of male ""secretaries"" for company and comfort; and their ne'er-do-well son Maurice appears only when in need of money--of which there seems precious little: land holdings and objets d'art are being sold to raise cash. Meanwhile, the police in Paris have received an unsigned note forecasting a crime in the church on All Souls' Day, and Maigret is at that service when the Countess collapses and dies of a heart attack brought on, Maigret thinks, by a scurrilous note found later in her prayer book. Son Maurice agrees, and, in a sudden surge of purposefulness, stage-manages a meeting of those closest to his mother--which produces both culprit and punishment. The son's new-found strength, Maigret's sadness at the downfall of childhood idols, and the picture of life in an insular French village of the era make for an absorbing and different kind of story.