Tuesday, March 29, 2016

PIETR THE LATVIAN by Georges Simenon

In Georges Simenon's Pietr the Latvian, Inspector Maigret follows a con man who seems to be four different people.

Along the way, Maigret finds there is more to the story than there appears to be. It involves the international mob, family intrigue, and several murders.

Among those murdered is a major character. (At least as much of a major character as there often are in the Maigret novels.)

Pietr The Latvian (1930) was the first Maigret novel.

Back in the day when we were reading the later Maigret books as fast as we could get our hands on them, my wife and I used to laugh. Each book was shorter than the last. Simenon got more and more terse, left more and more for the reader to work out in his/her own mind.

That's the beauty of these stories. Simenon doesn't tell you too much. You have to think to read Maigret.

I was tempted to start this little comment by saying, "It is all Pattinase's fault." The pattinase blog  has links to other blogs in "Friday's Forgotten Books." Last week, in Mysteries in Paradise  Kerrie Smith wrote about one of the Maigret books now being republished (one a month in order) by Penguin. That review made me think of Maigret. I decided to start my reading with Pietr the Latvian, a book written before I was born.

I can't help but think of that Alka Seltzer commercial from several years ago. The slogan was, "I can't believe I ate the whole thing!"  I'll never be able to read through all the mystery series I want to read or reread. My goal is just to die trying.

If I have a bucket list, I guess the first thing on it would be to die with a book in my hand. And I wouldn't mind if that book were Simenon's Maigret.

This Penguin book is a new translation by David Bellos. I am always thankful for the excellent translators who make it possible for me to read books like this one.


George said...

I've been buying and reading these new translations of the Maigret from Penguin. I wish they would NUMBER them so I could keep them more organized!

Joe Barone said...

Yes. He wrote a lot of books. I haven't read the early ones, and the later ones I read a long time ago. I always very much enjoyed Maigret.