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L'improbable Monsieur Owen (ss)

July, 1938. La Rochelle

Police-Film / Police-Roman, July 15, 1938
Tout Simenon (PDLC '91-'92): Tome 25, pp. 217-241 (25pp).

The Unlikely M. Owen (1999) tr. Stephen Trussel

bibliography entry films / television

Maigret of the Month: October, 2011

M, retired, is on vacation at a luxury hotel in Cannes, the Excelsior. Mme M has gone to Quimper, to care for her Aunt Émilie, in danger of dying, and M has accepted the standing invitation of his old friend M. Louis, whom he'd known when he was a porter in a hotel on the Champs-Élysées. To his "dismay", M. Louis appears with news of a mysterious murder in the hotel. An unidentified man has been found drowned in the bath-tub in the suite of M. Ernst Owen, who has disappeared. M Owen had registered as a Swede, but the embassy reports that the man of that name had died ten years earlier.
Owen had been a mysterious character, who dressed completly in gray, down to his gloves. His nurse, Germaine Devon, was confined to her room pending further investigation. Louis convinces M to think about the case, and eventually M succumbs, but insists he must have no part in it. He's troubled by the pane of glass cut out of the toilet window, by M Owen's gray gloves, and by the drowning in the tub at 6:00 in the morning. An empty whiskey bottle and a broken glass had been found in the room, but neither Owen nor his nurse were known to drink, and it hadn't been ordered from the hotel. M learns that Devon is in her room, and calls her, saying that he has possession of the bottle. He'd arranged with the operator to have him listen in when she made a call, which she did immediately after his, to a M. Smith in a hotel in Geneva.
M had learned from M. Louis that a Polish man, M. Saft, had left the hotel earlier that morning. Part of the conversation is in Polish or Russian... Devon comes to his room, where he reconstructs the crime. Saft was actually her lover, a student who'd become a morphine addict. Saft had enlisted her to get him to work for him in shady business, and she'd disguised him as a Swede, like the one she'd worked for. When he discovered she'd become Saft's mistress he threatened to go to the police, and she killed him, removing his disguise, trying to hide her trail with numerous red herrings. The gloves had covered his hands disfigured by acid, which had been in the bottle, apparently used in some criminal activity.

Read more about it:

Maigret of the Month: October, 2011


Baptiste Devon, Germaine Émilie
Henry Louis Mme M
Owen, Ernst Owen, Jean Pitois
Saft Smith Stilberg

Typos? Corrections? Suggestions? Please let me know!

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