Unlike most non-Maigret Simenon novels, this 1938 work (published in Britain in 1949) is very close to a conventional murder-mystery--starting with the arrest of popular young sea-captain Pierre Canut, for the murder of old Emile Fâ€švrier, a resident of Pierre's hometown (a small Channel port). Everyone finds it hard to believe that brawny, easygoing Pierre is a killer--especially his brother Charles, who's an opposite sort: brainy, timid, a railway-station employee. So Charles, when not clunkily courting tavern-waitress Babette, is working to clear Pierre--whose supposed motive is linked to a bygone (1906) shipwreck: Fâ€švrier was one of the four sole survivors; the Canuts' young father died in the lifeboat, perhaps a victim of desperate, last-resort cannibalism, Was this, then, a revenge-murder? After all, the Canuts' widowed mother has been driven mad by that lingering tragedy-at-sea, with public outbursts against the hated Fâ€švrier. (Madame Canut claims that she killed Fâ€švrier, in fact, though no one believes her.) On the other hand, Charles' spotty sleuthing turns up several other suspects--from Fâ€švrier's long-estranged wife to more recent romantic involvements. So-so mystery, solid small-town atmosphere (with Simenon's ironic edgings)--and an intriguing character-sketch in Charles, who does manage to become a more aggressive sort. . . but winds up resuming his old role, with a new sense of acceptance.