Pietr the Latvian is the first book in George Simenon’s extensive series with “Inspector Maigret.” I’ve been curious about this series for years, so I thought it was about time to find out why so many people seem to like Inspector Maigret. And I discovered that I liked him, too!
According to Wikipedia, the character of Inspector Jules Maigret “was invented by Simenon while drinking in a cafe by a Dutch canal and imagining a Parisian policeman: “a large powerfully built gentleman…a pipe, a bowler hat, a thick overcoat.” Maigret was reputed to be based on Marcel Guillaume, an actual French detective, although Simenon himself variously claimed not to remember the inspiration or that Maigret was influenced by Simenon’s own father.”
Inspector Maigret was a man that people would often underestimate. His size and his unassuming manner were a perfect cover for his keen instincts and skills. His knowledge of human behavior, his uncanny ability to observe the smallest details, and his brilliantly deductive mind made him an enjoyable detective to follow.
Summary of this first Maigret novel from the publisher:
Inspector Jules Maigret, a taciturn detective and commissaire of the Paris Brigade Criminelle, receives notice from Interpol that a notorious conman known only as Pietr the Latvian is en route to France. Armed with a broad description and a scant few clues, Maigret plans to intercept him at the train station outside Paris. But when he arrives, he finds that there are several suspects—some living, and some dead—who meet the description uncannily well.
Who is Pietr the Latvian, truly? A vagrant, a seaman, a businessman, a corpse? Russian, Norwegian, American or Latvian? In Pietr the Latvian, the iconic first novel of Simenon’s classic series that made Inspector Maigret a legendary figure in the annals of detective fiction, Maigret must use his every instinct to unravel the mystery and track down the truth.
There are twenty-two books in the Inspector Maigret series. It would be very easy to get caught in this series … a terrific winter reading project, perhaps?