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Maurice Piron's L'Univers de Simenon

Jean Forest's Les Archives Maigret

Bernard Alavoine's Les enquêtes de Maigret

The respective sections on
"The Madman of Bergerac" (Le Fou de Bergerac)

L'Univers de Simenon

Maurice Piron with Michel Lemoine

Presses de la Cité, 1983, 492 pp.

  p. 284-285

16 / The Madman of Bergerac

Dated La Rochelle ("Hôtel de France"), March 1932
Published by Fayard, in 1932

Space-time setting:

Bergerac. Contemporary; the investigation takes place in March and lasts less than two weeks.

Maigret's status:

see above.

Chief character's status:

Meyer, alias Jacques Rivaud, married physician, a natural daughter of indeterminate age.

Other main characters:

Françoise Beausoleil, his sister-in-law and mistress
Duhourceau, Public Prosecutor at Bergerac, 65 years old
Samuel Meyer, the "madman of Bergerac," forger in the international underworld, father of the hero, of Polish origin.

Particular aspects of the novel

Maigret, injured from the beginning of the affair, follows the progress of operations from his convalescent's bed at the hospital, then at the hotel: he interrogates witnesses there, examines documents there, constructing hypotheses on the basis of only what he hears and representations suggested by his imagination.


Maigret is on his way to Dordogne with the intention of stopping there when, on the Bordeaux Express, in the middle of the night, he is intrigued by the behavior of a fellow-traveler. When the train slows down, this latter jumps from the train; the commissioner follows him and is immediately wounded by a bullet that the runaway shoots in his direction. Hospitalized at Bergerac, he learns that several sadistic crimes have been committed, and that he was the victim of what they are calling the "madman of Bergerac." But who is it? The taciturn Doctor Rivaud who takes care of Maigret? The district attorney Duhourceau? The hotel manager? His friend Leduc?

In the meantime, the body of the "madman" has been found in the woods: it is Samuel Meyer, international forger. Some maintain the hypothesis, against the opinion of Maigret, that he committed suicide after having committed his crimes. From his hotel room, the commissioner, while interrogating witnesses, gathers his information: Françoise, sister-in-law and mistress of Rivaud, is also his child's mother, but by a ruse, the couple convinced the public prosecutor that he was the real father, in order to get his silence on another matter. It turns out that Rivaud is the son of Meyer, the madman of Bergerac, whom he helped to run away from Algiers where he had been condemned to death. Finally, by interrogating Mme Beausoleil, stepmother of the doctor, Maigret arrives at establishing his identity, and to prove besides that it was Rivaud himself who killed the madman of Bergerac. About to be caught, Rivaud and his mistress commit suicide after having tried vainly to run away.

Les Archives Maigret

Jean Forest

Les Presses de l'Université de Montréal, 1994, 288 pp.

  p. 67-69

N° 16

TitleThe madman of Bergerac
Date         La Rochelle. Hôtel de France. March 1932.

PlaceBergerac, in Dordogne.
Season      March. The investigation lasts about fifteen days.


Mme Maigret

Crime notes

A /
VictimLéontine Moreau.
Suspect A madman who prowls around Bergerac.
PlaceOn the highway.
HourAt dusk.
B /
VictimThe daughter of the station chief.
SuspectA madman.
WeaponA needle driven into the heart.
PlaceOn the highway.
HourIn the evening.
C /
VictimRosalie, hotel maid.
Suspect Madman.
WeaponPuts her attacker to flight.
PlaceOn the highway.
HourIn the evening.
D /
Suspect A traveler on the Paris-Bordeaux Express.
Place The railroad track.
Motive The malefactor fired at Maigret who pursued him.
GuiltyIn all four cases: Samuel Meyer.
E /
VictimAn unknown (Samuel Meyer).
Suspect Suicide.
PlaceIn a wood.
MotiveDespair of the malefactor.
GuiltyThe doctor, Jacques Rivaud, killed his father, Samuel Meyer.



Jacques Rivaud, physician, son of Samuel Meyer.
Germaine Beausoleil, 25, his wife.
Françoise Beausoleil, 20, his mistress and Germaine's sister.
Joséphine Beausoleil, 45, mother-in-law of Jacques Rivaud.
Samuel Meyer, about 50, father of Jacques Rivaud.
M. Duhourceau, 65, public prosecutor.
Leduc, retired policeman.
Rosalie, hotel maid.
Mme Maigret.


Maigret, on the train passing Bergerac, cannot fall asleep because of a noisy traveler. He follows the man, even jumping out of the train after him, pushed by his policeman's instinct, and is immediately wounded by a shot to the shoulder. In Bergerac, he learns that he had encountered the one they were calling there the madman of Bergerac, responsible for the deaths of two young women, whom he had strangled before piercing their hearts with a needle. A third victim, Rosalie, a maid at the Hotel d'Angleterre, owed her life to her vigorous self-defense, that permitted her to put her attacker to flight. It is Doctor Rivaud, however, who intrigues Maigret, as he is unknown by all faculties of medicine in France, and even in Algiers, where his wife affirms to have met him. Finally a man's body is found in the woods, shot at point-blank range, whose prints reveal his identity: it is Samuel Meyer, of Algiers. But this man had already died in Algiers, according to the civil register! The investigation reveals that Doctor Rivaud was in fact the son of Meyer, which explains why he was unknown everywhere under his new name. And also that Meyer had "died" in a fire at a hospital in Algiers, where he was awaiting his execution, having been condemned to death. Meyer's son saved his father's life then while giving him a false identity, that of a patient who perished in the fire, and in so doing substituted his father's name for the dead patient. The father, having gone mad, returned from America where his son had exiled him, killing without reason in Bergerac. His son put an end to his days to protect his own life, complicated because he wanted no one at any price to discover that his "dead father" was living, nor that Françoise, his sister-in-law, was in fact his mistress, nor that her child, whom they'd made pass for Duhourceau's, the public prosecutor, was in fact his... The lovers killed themselves when the truth was to be revealed.

Les enquêtes de Maigret de Georges Simenon; Lecture des textes

Bernard Alavoine

Encrage, 1999, 120 pp.

  p. 81-82


Fayard, 1932.—Rencontre IV.—T.S. 17.—«Pocket» n°1336.

While on his way to Dordogne for a vacation, Maigret sees a man jumping from the train as it slows down. He follows his reflex to go after this unknown, who doesn't hesitate to wound him. Hospitalized at Bergerac, he learns that several crimes have been committed by a madman and that he was probably in presence of the murderer. At Bergerac, panic seizes the city and everyone suspects his neighbor. Bedridden, Maigret endeavors to help the local authorities to identify the assassin. In the meantime, the body of a man named Meyer is found in the woods. However, Maigret concentrates on a small group of notables and discover their secrets: Dr Rivaud is the son of Meyer, the madman of Bergerac, and it is he who killed his father, sought by all the police. Shortly after these confessions, Rivaud and his mistress commit suicide.— As in "Maigret and the Yellow Dog," Maigret investigates notables, which doesn't facilitate his work.

One more plot summary, my own:

M is on a trip to Villefranche-en-Dordogne, to visit his old friend Leduc. At the same time he plans to go to Bordeaux, and take care of some business. (Mme M is in Alsace, where her sister is having her third baby.) M takes the lower berth in a 2nd class sleeping car, but is kept awake by the man above. In the morning the man gets up to go, and M notices that he's about to jump off the train. Without thinking, M follows, also jumping off the train. When he yells to the man, he shoots M in the shoulder.
M makes his way to a farm, and wakes up in a hospital in Bergerac, where it's been assumed he's the Madman of Bergerac, who'd already strangled two women to death, and then stabbed them through the heart with a needle. Leduc comes to his rescue, but he'll have to spend two weeks recuperating. He gets moved to a hotel, the Hôtel d'Angleterre, and Mme M comes to care for him. She finds a 2nd class train ticket, Paris-Bergerac under the mat of the door, and M pursues the investigation from his bed, believing that one of his visitors is the killer.
After various interviews, a dead man is found in the forest, shot through the head, the man from the train. He'd been dead a week, though that same day Doctor Jacques Rivaud's sister-in-law, Françoise Beausoleil, had claimed to have been attacked. The man's identity is Samuel Meyer, presumed killed in a hospital fire in Algiers years earlier. He'd been awaiting a death sentence for murdering two men, his agents in a document forging business under the cover of a postage-stamp dealer. M learns from Germaine Rivaud, the doctor's wife, that they'd met in Algiers. M has Mme M check the French universities, and learns that no Jacques Rivaud had ever qualified.
He places an ad in the papers, bringing Françoise Beausoleil's mother, Joséphine Beausoleil to Bergerac. While he is interviewing her, Jacques Rivaud and his sister-in-law try to escape, but Leduc stops them. They run to a hotel room, lock themselves in, and commit suicide.
Samuel Meyer was Rivaud's father. He'd saved him by setting fire to the hospital, and identifying a dead body as his. He'd married one of the patients in the ward, Germaine, and with her mother and sister, returned to Europe with his father, whom he'd sent to America. Changing his name, he'd moved to Bergerac, and set up his mother-in-law in Bordeaux. His father had returned to France, after killing two women the same way in America, and started his mad killing again when he visited Bergerac. Somehow the Public Prosecutor, Duhourceau, had caught on, so Rivaud had arranged for him to think his sister-in-law was having his child (actually Rivaud's), thus keeping him quiet.

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