“THE BAR ON THE SEINE” can be summed up as a nice and tidy detective novel peopled with an interesting array of characters, some of whom Inspector Maigret matches wits with.
The drama begins in a prison cell where a man (Monsieur Lenoir) – a petty criminal sentenced to death whom Maigret had arrested some time earlier, awaits word about a possible reprieve. Maigret pays Lenoir a visit, tells him that a reprieve will not be forthcoming, and that he will be put to death at dawn the next day. Lenoir, feeling that he has nothing to lose, shares with Maigret “a story – of seeing a body dumped in the Canal Saint-Martin six years before and of backmailing the murderer…” This story leads Maigret to undertake an investigation on the seamy side of Paris, in particular a dive by the River Seine with the name of “La Guinguette à deux sous.” There he ingratiates himself with the regular crowd (including an expatriate Englishman named James who has a devil-may-care attitude about everything and avidly drinks glasses of Pernod) who have made the bar their special domain, particularly on Sundays. Another murder takes place and brings to the surface a cesspool of secrets through which Maigret must wade to bring the criminals to justice.
I read this novel in 3 days and enjoyed being entertained by it.