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Pietr the Latvian: Inspector Maigret #1 [Paperback]

Georges Simenon
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 Nov 2013

The first novel which appeared in Georges Simenon's famous Maigret series, in a gripping new translation by David Bellos.

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.

'Compelling, remorseless, brilliant' John Gray

'One of the greatest writers of the twentieth century . . . Simenon was unequalled at making us look inside, though the ability was masked by his brilliance at absorbing us obsessively in his stories' Guardian

'A supreme writer . . . unforgettable vividness' Independent

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). He is the author of Is that a Fish in your Ear: The Amazing Adventure of Translation.

The first book in the new Inspector Maigret series. Penguin is publishing all seventy-five novels in new translations, releasing one new title each month.

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Pietr the Latvian: Inspector Maigret #1 + The Late Monsieur Gallet: Inspector Maigret #2 + The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien: Inspector Maigret #3
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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (7 Nov 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141392738
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141392738
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

Georges Simenon (1903-1989) was born on February 12th, 1903 in Liege, Belgium. At the age of nineteen, Simenon embarked to Paris to begin a career as a writer. In 1923 he began publishing under various pseudonyms, and in 1929 began the Inspector Maigret series which helped elevate him to a household name in continental Europe. His prolific output of more than four hundred novels and the gripping, dark realism of his prose has cemented him as an inedlible fixture of twentieth century literature. He died in 1989 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Linda Coverdale is the awarding-winning translator of many French works and has been honored with the title of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters for her contribution to French literature.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dark start to an enthralling series 24 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
The first book featuring the lugubrious detective Maigret is a taut, tense affair that needs some attention paying to it to follow the plot which describes the search for a pan-European criminal mastermind. Being an early work it introduces locations and characters that will recur in the series and it is the descriptions of these and Maigret himself that lifts the book above the ordinary. Due attention also has to be paid to the fact that this book came out in the early 1930s and was way ahead of its time in the realistic depiction of life both within the Flying squad that Maigret was a member of, and also the Inspector's humdrum home life. In common with the majority of Maigret novels this is relatively short, which is good because it allows for a stripped down novel without an inch of flab. Beautifully translated this is a necessary read for anyone interested in crime fiction. Better books will follow in due course but for now enjoy the first instalment in an excellent series
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MAIGRET REPRINTS 25 Nov 2013
By Mike
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Superb new editions and a promise of all 78 books in new format.

My personal publishing event of the year.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rip off new Penguin editions? 12 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Although it's great to see Simenon's Maigret series finally appearing again (especially in Kindle format), I can't help feeling that Penguin is ripping us off slightly here. The Maigret books are so slim in terms of page numbers that either the price for the print version could be lower, or they could release more titles at once and bundle them into more 'omnibus' style releases. 3.99 is just about okay for a Kindle version, but they could still be cheaper - and look at some of the foreign editions that are appearing and you know it can be done.

Either way, bringing out one title per month is going to be a long-haul for even the most patient Maigret fan, so Penguin should perhaps review the approach they are taking if they are serious about giving us all 75 novels. Six years and counting....

As far as the story goes, the early Maigrets always were a bit hit and miss. This one darts about all over the place and is quite ragged in terms of style, plot and narrative, but every writer has to start somewhere, and Pietr The Latvian is one of a handful of titles that Simenon rattled off for publication in 1931. Not sure what makes the new translation so "gripping" to be honest. It perhaps captures the raw nature of Simenon's early - slightly rushed - writing, but apart from that, hard to see what new insights it offers.

Padding the Kindle edition with a lengthy excerpt from the next title to be released really is taking the biscuit (and yes, Penguin repeat the trick in that one as well to beef up the content), and with no page numbering there is still clear room for improvement in how the publisher releases e-book versions of their texts.

So, good to see the books appearing, but we'll have to dig deep in our pockets to get the full set - and grow old doing it. Poor marketing, guys.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pietr the Latvian 7 Mar 2014
By Golden
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Excellent plot and characters - very atmospheric. Cleverly written; a pleasant change from blood, guts and sex, ingredients relied on by lesser and more modern writers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who is Inspector Maigret? 24 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love Maigret novels and have read them over the years as and when I could get them. I was therefore thrilled when penguin books announced they were going to release all of the inspector Maigret novels in the order they were originally published; releasing 1 of the 75 books each month.
Pietr the Latvian was originally published in 1930. Although I had read this account I have decided to return to this series and read all the books in the chronology of their accepted writing/publication.
This was never my favourite story but re-evaluating it now as the very beginning; the early reveal of who Maigret is and his methods of working it is quite fascinating. Consequently, it will be good as the series expands in order just how faithful Simenon sticks with this picture of the detective.
This is a clever story with Maigret on the trail of a murderer and an international crime syndicate. It demonstrates the doggedness of Maigret and his methods of deduction and how he enables others to solve cases.
The writing is engaging if not always as clearly expanded as more recent Police procedurals. It is interesting to see early forensic techniques and this in itself is a pleasant antidote to modern CSI style investigations. This is what I have always enjoyed about this series as well as the insights into the seedy criminal world of Paris. I am delighted to have the whole catalogue before me and this book has reminded me of what pleasures lies before me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1st class Maigret story 31 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoy the Maigret stories and have read many of them, mostly in omnibus editions, which makes the most of the novella format in which they are written. Penguin are re-issuing the whole series and this story is the first to be published. It is always interesting to read the first in a series to see how the ideas and stories develop over time and this is no exception. There is more plot movement as the scenes take in Paris and the French North coast, with Maigret spending little time at home as the chase to catch an international criminal gathers pace. Apart from being described as large, muscular and working class, there is not much to describe Maigret who starts and remains as a detective everyman, sympathetic, humane, perceptive and dogged in his pursuit for justice and the truth. The same can be said for the Scenery in which the action takes place, described with economy and yet you have no doubt that you are inhabiting the world of 1930's Paris, the Quai des Offevres or that of a coastal port, the bars and the drinks and the characters and nightlife of the french demi-monde, criminals or playboys. Simenon has created a world in which Maigret and and other characters inhabit, which is believable and inhabitable by the reader: much to the delight and pleasure of those who enjoy these stories. Pietr the Latvian is no exception: readable, enjoyable and no worse for being the first in the series.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Always have enjoyed Maigret.
Published 4 days ago by Netta Brodrick
4.0 out of 5 stars Pietr the Latvian
I remember the early black and white Maigret series and spotted this classic French detective in a recent visit to Waterstones. Read more
Published 25 days ago by M. L. Mcintyre
5.0 out of 5 stars After all these years
After first reading many Maigret books over 30yrs ago, it is good to see that the publisher has finally realised what a rich seam of literature was being ignored. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Nick
3.0 out of 5 stars Now very dated, unlike Vernac
I loved the Maigret books back in the 60s, and it developed in me a love of France. I was pleased to see news of the new translations, and was determined to re-acquaint myself with... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Brianaero
1.0 out of 5 stars Maybe it's the translation
After all the newspaper reviews, I was expecting to be impressed. I wasn't. It was almost a plot summary, with little development and far too many one-sentence paragraphs.
Published 3 months ago by M. Johns
3.0 out of 5 stars Has Simenon had his day?
I found the story slight and the writing oldfashioned in the wrong way. Disappointing as I used to like Maigret.
Published 3 months ago by P. A. Francis
2.0 out of 5 stars Dated not classic
I used to enjoy Maigret on TV many, many years ago but reading this - especially just after a modern, comparatively fast-paced Jo Nesbo, I found it rather turgid and old fashioned. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Book Club Reader
1.0 out of 5 stars Really a bad book
The first Maigret book written 1929. An indifferent offering with a convoluted and unconvincing plot about East European nasties doing bad things in France. Read more
Published 3 months ago by A_liberal_mind
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time on this rubbish.
Sorry, but this is absolute appalling drivel. It makes no sense at all. Maigret just seems monosyllabic, one dimensional and does no investigation. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but the story is quite linear and well telegraphed
Pietr the Latvian is the first book in Simenon’s famous series featuring Detective Chief Inspector Maigret, which ran for 75 novels and 28 short stories. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Rob Kitchin
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