Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon

Pietr the Latvian, originally published in 1930 is Georges Simenon’s first Maigret mystery. This edition is translated by David Bellos

Georges Simenon, 1903-1989, published seventy-novels featuring his Inspector Maigret.  This fabulous character has been featured in several series, (in both English and French), and well as a recent two season remake which sometimes pops up on PBS/Create TV.  

I first heard of Georges Simenon and his ‘Flying Squad’ while reading a novel written by Andrea Camilleri.  Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano was reading a Simenon book in his book.  (Wow does that sentence sound wrong…anyway..). I had never heard of Georges Simenon – I was curious of course, but life being what it was/is I promptly forgot about this author.  Now life being what is/was, I recently remembered.  And found the above book and loved it.

I think that the actual plot – which is quite good, dark and twisty and powerful – is secondary to the spare, elegant writing of Mr. Simenon.  While this book, and the writing, is somewhat noir – it isn’t.  True crime and gritty, sure, but with a casual depth not often seen.  I recently read a discussion in which his writing was compared to Camus and Sartre.  Okay, so I’ve never read Camus, and Sartre was college reading done eons ago – but you get the drift.  George Simenon is definitely a genre defying – in writing at least – and his Inspector Maigret in a category of his own.  Try one. or more.

Thank you for reading, and stay safe.