Pietr the Latvian (Inspector Maigret Book 1) by Georges Simenon

The first 3 Inspector Maigret Book are on sale for $2.99 on kindle. The next 7 are $4.99 http://amzn.to/1RerwSo. Just as a warning, the 4th one is labeled as number 2. So the third one is actually number two, the fourth one is actually number three. The Audiobooks are $3.49 with purchase of the Kindle books for several.

Takeaway: Smart mysteries look at character.

As with many other books, I picked up the first of the Inspector Maigret books based on a recommendation from John Wilson on the Books and Culture podcast. Penguin has commissioned new translations of this classic French mystery series.

This is the first of well over 100. So the order isn’t that important, but I like to read series books in order when possible.

This is a short mystery (less than 200 pages) and several of the reviews comment about the fact that this is not one of the best of the series. So my expectations were low going in.

It was an enjoyable read, not earth shattering, but good.

There was one line that I need to go back and find again and quote properly at some point. But Maigret is staking out a house. He has a hunch that the house has a connection to the case, but he is not sure. Maigret in explaining why he is in the rain and cold when he could be at home and dry. (Paraphrasing here) Most inspectors track the criminal as the criminal. But Maigret knows that criminals are people. So instead of looking for their criminal life, he looks for their humanity and usually in their humanity finds them.

It wasn’t until I was writing this that I realized that this is essentially the idea behind Ender’s Game. I wonder if Orson Scott Card had read this? I can see hints of the later Inspector Gamache. Not quite the same character, but some overlaps.

Pietr the Latvian (Inspector Maigret Book 1) by Georges Simenon Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audible.com Audiobook

4 Comments

Ah, Adam, at least in the beginning, Louise Penny’s Gamache mysteries had me thinking of Maigret, too. Probably because of the points you made in your review, but also in the similarity of pronunciations for their close colleagues: Jean Guy and Janvier. But Simenon’s stories, though wonderful, were not long enough to really develop the characters or relationships as do Penny’s works.

For a man who does not care for the mystery genre, seems you might have softened a bit?

    Definitely have softened toward it 🙂

    Your comment does make me think that I may not end up liking the Maigret as much if the character development is not as great. That is what I have really liked about these mystery series, not the mysteries and solving them, as much as the people that solve them.

      Well, I will admit to only being exposed to a small number of the Simenon stories, so my observations may be off-base. I had no idea they exceeded 100 in number since I could locate no more than a half-dozen from the libraries to which I have had access.

      Perhaps only a few have been translated into English? Or perhaps they aren’t as popular with American readers because of all the foreign names and places? But then the Father Brown mysteries are in English, yet I don’t believe they are all that popular either. Perhaps American readers prefer action-oriented over cerebral mysteries?

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