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It's Christmas morning, and M is visited by two women from across the street, Mme Doncoeur and Loraine Martin. Mme Martin's 7-year-old niece, Colette Martin had told Mme Doncoeur she'd had a visit the night before from Father Christmas, who'd been in her room with a flashlight, and been making a hole in the floor, presumably to bring presents to the young child below. He'd given Colette a lovely doll, and had had a white beard and red clothes. Martin's husband, Jean Martin is away on a business trip, and the girl's father, Paul Martin, has taken to drink since the death of his wife in a traffic accident when he was driving. M's suspicion's are aroused by the fact that Mme Martin herself had had to be prodded into coming to see him, and that as soon as she returned home, she went out "shopping", though there was adequate food.
He pursues the investigation using Lucas, by telephone, and learns that Mme Martin had worked for a suspicious man, M. Lorilleux, who had disappeared one day. Someone had called Jean Martin's office to make sure he'd be away, and M suspected it had been Lorilleux. M confronts Loraine Martin with the taxi drivers and luggage store clerk who'd seen her while she'd been shopping for a suitcase to leave at the Gare du Nord, and when he tells her Lorilleux is in the neighborhood she admits to having had the money he'd stolen from a man he'd killed, and that she'd managed to keep him out of the country till then, pretending the police were on his trail.
Maigret of the Month: December, 2006