Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon


Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon

Belgian crime fiction

Original title – Pietr le-letton

Translator – David Bellos

Source – personnel copy

Well when I heard earlier this year penguin was under taking retranalsting and publishing all 75 Maigret novels by the prolific Belgian novelist Georges Simenon I was really excited  ,I have read three of the books before but had always want to read them in the order they were published .Georges Simenon is probabkly the second best known Belgian writer after Herge . Georges simenon , started writing in 1919 and wrote his whole life on average writing 60-80 pages a day he wrote more than 200 novels and loads of short stories ,in fact he wrote so much and also published under a number of alias ,his own estate is fully sure what he wrote.Any to this the first of many I’m sure I will be reviewing over time the debut book of Jules Maigret Pietr the Latvian .

Maigret had a tough time disentangling his own feet from the dead man’s legs to extricate himself from the toilet .With swift professional movements he patted the man’s pockets .Clean as a whistle .Nothing in them at all

Maigret checks the body that maybe Pietr on the train toilet .

Pietr the latvian is a well known con man due to arrive in Paris and Jules Maigret has been assigned to try and capture him ,this man has been causing crimes all round Europe and is now heading for Maigret patch any way the train arrives and there is a body in the toilet of the train and it matches what they have been told about this Pietr ,but then they think he is dead they hear of another man appearing at a posh hotel the prime ground for this high-class con man who the man they were tracking Pietr is  ,so Maigret is now faced with the dilemma which is the real Pietr and what happened to get the body in the train ?

But what had he got against the American millionaire Mortimer – levingstone ? within an hour of the arrest ,the US embassy would lodge a protest ! The French companies and financial institutions on whose boards he sat would wheel in political support .

An homage to holmes in the name but what has this US millionaire to do with this story .


Well I hadn’t read this one and I must state from the start even thou the man describe as Maigret is younger than the one I have when reading the book which is a figure resembling Michael Gambon who had played Maigret in a uk tv series .So does this old book warrant a new translation well yes we see the greats of English crime fiction repackage and reissued .So yes its nice to see a translated crime book published in same way in a new version as English crime does .As to the book it is an easy read not taxing but I did find a couple of things as I read that I may not that is two nods to the great crime novelist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle at one point it is said holes sat and smoke three pipes ,rather like Holmes in the red-headed league when he said “It is quite a three pipe problem ” ,then there is a character called Mortimer as any Holmes fan would now he is one of the main character in the hound of the Baskervilles .So I think I will be getting one of these every month as they come out I have already brought the next two on my kindle to read .

Have you read Maigret ?

23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Longest Chapter
    Jan 08, 2014 @ 04:13:57

    Two years ago, I read “Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard” and loved it. I have two other Maigret books on my reading table — “Inspector Cadaver” and “The Friend of Madame Maigret.” I purchased them at Partners and Crime bookstore in New York, before the bookstore unfortunately closed, and had a wonderful conversation with the bookseller about Simenon. More recently, I saw in the TLS this “Pietr the Latvian” and have thought of picking it up. Thanks for your mention of it here!


  2. gaskella
    Jan 08, 2014 @ 08:02:55

    I read loads of Maigret in my teens, and have dipped in since. The most recent Simenon book I read though was one of his ‘romans durs’ – Dirty Snow – a non-Maigret book, and very very dark – and very very good. I’d love to get this set though.


  3. BookerTalk
    Jan 08, 2014 @ 09:57:40

    I’ve watched the series with Michael Gambon and listened to the podcasts of the radio broadcasts but never actually read any of these stories. I remember hearing a comment from John Banville that Maigret wasn’t Simenon’s best work – would you agree?


  4. kaggsysbookishramblings
    Jan 08, 2014 @ 10:28:58

    I do love the Maigret books though I tend to read them randomly whenI can pick up reasonably priced copies. But the idea of reading them all in order in a beautiful new set of translations is very, very appealing……


  5. Bina
    Jan 08, 2014 @ 10:53:30

    I love the Maigret books as well, my parents got me into them. I don’t read them often but really like the cozy crime vibe that’s still quite different ti British mysteries. And the descriptions of the settings are always a joy.


  6. 1streading
    Jan 08, 2014 @ 19:01:59

    Like you, I’ve read a coupe of Maigrets before, but love the idea of reading them in order. I’m glad Penguin have gone for the monthly approach instead of dumping 4 or 5 titles on the shelves at once. I enjoyed this one and have the second waiting to be read.


  7. davidsimmons6
    Jan 08, 2014 @ 22:13:35

    To answer your question: Yes, I’ve read Maigret, mostly in the original French. My approach was random at first, but later on directed specifically to research material for a Simenon/Maigret pastiche I decided to write.

    Reading the series in chronological order of its publication makes good sense, but one must bear in mind that the stories themselves do not follow a chronological pattern at all. To cite just one example, Maigret’s very first case, “Maigret’s First Case” (La première enquête de Maigret, 1913), is actually # 57 in the series of 103 works.

    I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I have and look forward to reading your intermittent comments.


    • winstonsdad
      Jan 09, 2014 @ 20:38:48

      Thanks David I am looking forward to working through them as they come out nice see them redone he is probably the best known detective outside uk and us ones in novels


  8. Jacqui (@jacquiwine)
    Jan 16, 2014 @ 10:24:29

    I picked this one up last year and it’s my first experience of Maigret and Simenon’s work. I thoroughly enjoyed it (there are some great descriptions of the grim, damp weather) and have bought the next one ‘The Late Monsieur Gallet’. There’s something quite appealing about reading them in order and one a month feels about right – it’s a good way for Penguin to sustain interest in the series.


  9. davidsimmons6
    Jan 16, 2014 @ 11:32:44

    I love the short weather descriptions in Maigret’s world. One get the sense it’s always gray and wet in Paris. His mood often matches the weather.


  10. Trackback: That was the month that was Jan 2012 | Winstonsdad's Blog
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January 2014


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