Lock 14 is an early Inspector Maigret novels by Belgian writer, Georges Simenon. The story has also been published as The Carter of La Providence, The Crime at Lock 14 and Maigret Meets a Milord.
I would have preferred to start reading the Inspector Maigret stories with the first book in the series but as my library didn’t have a copy of Pietr the Latvian I was more than happy to start with what I could get, having had many recommendations to read Simenon’s books.
Lock 14 is set on a canal, something which doesn’t exist in my area of the world. The characters included working people on barges, an Englishman and an odd assortment of guests on his pleasure yacht, plus the managers of the locks who ran the lock-side inns along the canal.
When a woman was found strangled to death in a stable near Lock 14 Inspector Maigret attended but initially found, as the first paragraph of the story said, that the facts of the case proved nothing.
The dead woman was identified as the wife of the English ‘Milord.’ Soon after Maigret’s arrival, another man who had been travelling on the yacht was also found murdered.
The story is very short and the writing style is terse. Descriptions of the characters and events are brief but telling with very little emotion shown by any of the characters despite a murderer being in their midst. I did feel that Maigret privately made moral judgements on many of the more hedonistic characters although his distaste was not overtly described.
I guessed who the murderer was prior to the dramatic end reveal, so found this story to be more of a psychological study than a mystery. My favourite Belgian detective is still Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, but with further reading, I expect I might warm to Maigret.