Inevitably Maigret was a hostile presence in the Majestic. He constituted a kind of foreign body that the hotel's atmosphere could not assimilate. Not that he looked like a cartoon policeman. He didn't have a moustache and he didn't wear heavy boots. His clothes were well cut and made of fairly light worsted. He shaved every day and looked after his hands. But his frame was proletarian. He was a big, bony man. His firm muscles filled out his jacket and quickly pulled all his trousers out of shape. He had a way of imposing himself just by standing there. His assertive presence had often irked many of his own colleagues.
In Simenon's first novel featuring Maigret, the laconic detective is taken from grimy bars to luxury hotels as he traces the true identity of Pietr the Latvian. Georges Simenon was born in Liège, Belgium, in 1903. Best known in Britain as the author of the Maigret books, his prolific output of over 400 novels and short stories have made him a household name in continental Europe. He died in 1989 in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he had lived for the latter part of his life.
David Bellos is Director of the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication at Princeton University and has won many awards for his translations including the Man Booker International Translator's Award (2005).
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Viv on 28-01-14
Easy Reading of a classic cop
Would you listen to Pietr the Latvian again? Why?
I am not likely to listen to this story again, though it was enjoyable enough first time around. Story was a bit thin and didn't engage me very much - but good enough as background to doing the gardening or going to sleep.
What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)
All tied up nicely at the end, though no great surprise, if a bit contorted.
Have you listened to any of Gareth Armstrong’s other performances? How does this one compare?
First time I have heard Gareth, but an enjoyable reader within plenty of 'character'.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Zaubermond on 19-11-14
Long live Maigret
I've been disappointed with so many new, highly acclaimed books lately that I find myself turning back to the classics once again. (As usual, curmudgeon that I am). Now I'm working my way back through the Simenon canon and enjoying every minute. I'd almost forgotten how much I loved Maigret! A big, strong, man of few words who can take a bullet and keep on working, never complaining or blaming. For me, that's old school sexy and I'd like to see it come back into style!
The stories are edgy, sometimes raw, and always realistic. Paris is not idealised as it is so often, but shown with all its flaws and very much anchored in that particular postwar time. Simenon knows how to choose just the right detail in his description, saying volumes in a simple but compelling observation. Such simplicity is a great gift, and much appreciated.
In short, you can't go far wrong. The translation is good, the story fast-paced and interesting, and Gareth Armstrong has fantastic pacing, a beautiful voice, and gives us an excellent narration. May you enjoy taking a trip into the old days with the unforgettable, highly original character that is Maigret.
48 of 49 people found this review helpful
By Kathi on 03-03-14
First of the Maigret books--well narrated
Georges Simenon, a Belgian writer in early 20th century, wrote many novels--perhaps most notably the Commissaire Jules Maigret series. Maigret is a detective in the French police, and he seems to find his criminal without using the customary procedural methods, but just following his own instincts.
In this book, the first in the series, Maigret is seeking a criminal who eludes him most cleverly. He seems to appear everywhere, only to be elsewhere instead. It begins with Maigret examining a body in the lavatory of a train, who looks like the man he is chasing, but he finds that Pietr has escaped, which begins his pursuit of him in many cities.
The writing is plain, lacking some of the exciting twists and turns of later detective stories, but fun because Simenon has created a character with a distinct personality (his pipe, his hat, his individualized way of pursuing his adversary). He tends to seek "the crack in the wall," meaning he uses a bit of psychology--waiting until he can observe his criminal in a way that shows the parts the man would not have liked to reveal about himself.
This is a very good translation of this book. And the narration is excellent. Recommend to those who enjoy books from the early era of detective fiction.
37 of 40 people found this review helpful