Originally published in 1936, this lacks the satiric invention of his later books, but there's cutting edge to this portfolio of life in a small town in the French provinces and the covert conduct of its leading citizens. The mutilation and murder of a servant girl in the home of Maitre Marguet, a lawyer, brings an immediate charge against Troussequin, a handyman, deformed in appearance and recently released from jail. Troussequin's guilt is assumed by all- and it is only Antoine Rigault, 12, who has seen Marguet at the scene of the crime and confides in his father. Rigault pere keeps silent, until he is shamed by his son to reveal this to the Mayor who in turn suppresses the information. Rumor is rife- an anonymous letter threatens Marguet- and finally the incontrovertible evidence on a roll of film forces his hand- against himself... A dry, even wry, portrayal of behaviour under the pressures of self-interest and conformism, the drama here- while sharply observed from the sidelines- is subdued by the rather unattractive mien of those engaged in it.