One of the revelations in this book is that Aunt Juliette’s fortune began when she poisoned her wealthy husband fifteen or twenty years earlier. Maigret confidently states that therefore what she inherited will be divested from her estate and given to her late husband’s nearest relatives. But is this so?

     Suppose Nicole Brown Simpson had left OJ something in her will, which in fact she didn’t. Even though he was acquitted in the criminal trial, in many states the proceeding in which he was found civilly responsible for Nicole’s murder would indeed have led to the forfeiture of the hypothetical bequest and its passing to Nicole’s nearest relatives. Was French law back in the 1930s the same? Before I retired we had a law professor from France on our visiting faculty and I could have asked him. Now I can’t. Quel dommage.

    But even if French law were the same, there are huge differences between the two cases. (1) Nicole’s death was clearly murder and happened recently, while Juliette’s husband died many years earlier and at the time his death was accepted as natural. Maigret tells us that even after so many years the poison will be found in his remains, but is he right? (2) OJ was alive at the time of the civil proceeding against him and there was abundant evidence that he had killed her, but Juliette is dead and the only evidence against her is a series of old and ambiguous letters between her and a co-conspirator.

    Even if French law allowed for divestment on a finding of civil responsibility, would a French jury have found her civilly responsible on these meager facts?