BBC Radio 7, 10-13 August 2009
Ned Chaillet's radio production of this classic detective story was as much about the act of writing as solving a case. Ingeniously narrated by novelist Julian Barnes (who took the part of Simenon), it showed the author taunting his fictional creation Maigret (Nicholas le Prevost), as the detective repeatedly tried and failed to solve a case involving his wife (Julie Legrand). As with all good detective fiction, however, Maigret overcame adversity with a combination of patience and intuitive skill. The sound of self-righteousness was seldom absent from his voice, as he informed Simenon in no uncertain terms that his reputation was still intact. It was the author's responsibility to retell the story to the listeners, and thereby confirm the detective's reputation. This conceit recalled the 1945 film Dead of Night (where the ventriloquist doll takes over the puppeteer Michael Redgrave's life), as the fictional character told the author what to write.
The narrative itself followed a familiar trajectory, with Maigret keeping control of the plot, as well as his fellow police officers. As portrayed by le Prevost, he was something of a maverick, perpetually criticized for being old-fashioned in his methods, but nonetheless achieving successful results. His fondness for real ale was very reminiscent of John Thaw's Inspector Morse in the long-running television series. In Maigret's case, the act of drinking beer gave him the chance to reflect on the case, and thereby determine his future course of action. Ably supported by Legrand as his long-suffering wife, le Prevost convinced us that we could rely on him, however long it took him to solve the crime.