'Just take a look,' Duclos said in an undertone, pointing to the scene all round them, the picture-book town, with everything in its place, like ornaments on the mantlepiece of a careful housewife. 'Everyone here earns his living. Everyone's more or less content. And above all, everyone keeps his instincts under control, because that's the rule here, and a necessity if people want to live in society.'
Outsiders are viewed with suspicion in the small Dutch town of Delfzijl. Maigret, unable to speak the language and a stranger to their strict, church-going way of life, must unearth the sins at the heart of this seemingly respectable community.