Friday, March 7, 2014
Review of Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon (1930, reprinted 2013, Penguin)
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. Maigret makes for an attractive lead character, with an assertive presence and tenacity in his pursuit of justice, pushing himself and prompting others into action and mistakes. Simenon writes in a tight, all tell and no show fashion using a workmanlike prose, keeping the story moving at a fair clip, with little in the way of character development and no derivation from the essentials of the storyline. Although the book is relatively short at 160 pages, quite a lot happens in its plot, which has enough feints and minor twists to keep the reader engaged, though its general arc is quite linear and telegraphed. And although the story was published in 1930, it does not feel too dated, other than Maigret trying to get warm by always stoking the stove in his room, partially because the story seems a little timeless and placeless. Overall, an interesting and enjoyable start to the series.