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Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon
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Pietr the Latvian (1931)

by Georges Simenon

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Maigret (1), Penguin Inspector Maigret Series (1)

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8153918,410 (3.34)95
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. Penguin is publishing the entire series of Maigret novels in new translations. This novel has been published in previous translations as The Case of Peter the Lettand Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett. '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… (more)

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» See also 95 mentions

English (28)  French (3)  Dutch (2)  Italian (2)  Portuguese (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (39)
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
Maegrete is a man's man. He doesn't express emotions, but he understands them and knows what he sees. This is the first volume I've read...there are more --many more!-- to help flesh out the skin and bones that make up this hero. ( )
  kaulsu | Oct 29, 2019 |
The story is choppy and difficult to follow. Its possible this is due partly to the translation, but I think most of it is the story itself. ( )
  grandpahobo | Sep 26, 2019 |
First time reading Maigret, actually starting with the first book in a series for a change. Great detective novel, the main character Maigret is practically portrayed as a force of nature, a solid slab of determination whose simple task of tracking down a well-known confidence man becomes complicated when the bodies start piling up. The mood is dark and gritty, which suits me just fine. It's the kind of book that makes you want to read more. Luckily for me, there are a lot more. ( )
  smichaelwilson | Jul 2, 2019 |
First time reading Maigret, actually starting with the first book in a series for a change. Great detective novel, the main character Maigret is practically portrayed as a force of nature, a solid slab of determination whose simple task of tracking down a well-known confidence man becomes complicated when the bodies start piling up. The mood is dark and gritty, which suits me just fine. It's the kind of book that makes you want to read more. Luckily for me, there are a lot more. ( )
  smichaelwilson | Jul 2, 2019 |
This is the very first Maigret, set between the two world wars. The plot involves trying to catch the title character, who is probably a murderer and is also up to other kinds of nefarious business. He has checked into the Hotel Majestic and is doing business with a shady American. Maigret surveils him at the hotel and follows him to villages outside Paris, trying to figure out how he manages to escape detection and capture. It isn't really a mystery as much as a suspense and police procedural, and the best part is the atmosphere. There are a few mildly anti-Semitic passages.

What I liked best was the evocation of Paris in the early 1930s. It's gray, dreary, seedy, and mostly raining and cold. Everyone smokes. It makes an interesting contrast to British Golden Age mysteries, because there are plenty of not-rich people and the rich aren't glamorized.

What I didn't like was the writing. It's ... not very good. So many exclamation points! Bad dialogue. The plot was very melodramatic, although the last scene between Pietr and Maigret was riveting; too much exposition but nevertheless tense. Pietr's story, while not entirely believable, certainly gave him motivation.

I wouldn't start here if you haven't read any other books in the series, but it's good to know how Maigret was introduced to the world. ( )
  Sunita_p | May 17, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Simenon, Georgesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bellos, DavidTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bruna, DickCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cañameras, F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jordá, JoaquínTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marchi, EnaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mélaouah, YasminaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Monreal, José RamónTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
N. Broes van GroenauTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pinotti, GiorgioEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tlarig, M.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woodward, DaphneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Interpol an Sureté Paris:
Xvust Krakau vimontra m ghks triv psot uv Pietr, des Letten, Bremen vs tyz btoelm.
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
In the French original, Pietr-le-Letton (1931).

Variously published in English as:
(i) The Strange Case of Peter the Lett (1933) (trans. Anthony Abbot);
(ii) "The Case of Peter the Lett," (trans. Anthony Abbot) in Inspector Maigret Investigates (1933);
(iii) Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett (1963), and in Maigret Meets a Milord (1983) (trans. Daphne Woodward) and;
(iv) Pietr the Latvian (2013) (trans. David Bellos).
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