The first novel which appeared in Georges Simenon's famous Maigret series, in a gripping new translation by David Bellos.
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.
This novel has been published in previous translations as The Case of Peter the Lett and Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett.
'Compelling, remorseless, brilliant' John Gray
'One of the greatest writers of the twentieth century' Guardian
Gem-hard soul-probes . . . not just the world's bestselling detective series, but an imperishable literary legend . . . he exposes secrets and crimes not by forensic wizardry, but by the melded powers of therapist, philosopher and confessor
Strangely comforting . . . so many lovely bistros from the Paris of mid-20th C. The corpses are incidental, it's the food that counts.
One of the greatest writers of the 20th century . . . no other writer can set up a scene as sharply and with such economy as Simenon does . . . the conjuring of a world, a place, a time, a set of characters - above all, an atmosphere.
Simenon's supreme virtue as a novelist, to burrow beneath the surface of his characters' behaviour; to empathise . . . it is this unfailing humanity that makes the Maigret books truly worth reading.
Hyper-prolific yet critically adored, the Belgian writer took crime novels into new terrority with his 75 books series – newly translated this week – winning devoted fans from Muriel Spark to Alfred Hitchcock in the process.
The crime writer and Maigret inventor's books were all composed in the same intense mood, as if he were gripped by a fever