The first audiobook 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. Georges Simenon was born in Liège, Belgium, in 1903. Best known in Britain as the author of the Maigret books, his prolific output of over 400 novels and short stories have made him a household name in continental Europe. He died in 1989 in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he had lived for the latter part of his life.
David Bellos is Director of the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication at Princeton University and has won many awards for his translations including the Man Booker International Translator's Award (2005).
Audible will be producing all 75 Maigret titles. The next two in the series are:
The Late Monsieur Gallet on 5th Dec 2013
The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien on 2nd January 2014
©2013 Georges Simenon (P)2013 Audible Ltd
"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)
Audio books have been an incredible discovery
Great to see the books out and translated well - not the BBC plays which are good but not good enough - well paced and full of character and texture. Old school investigation, gritty Gaelic noir!
Crime mystery at its intricate best.
Really well read - the many voices are all distinct and played with conviction
AT LAST A DECENT FILM
Excellent entertainment provided you gloss over some infelicities in the story itself. The reading is spot on.
I love these tales & this didn't disappoint.
This was an excellent listen, an easy and undemanding listen & the characters were already known to me. In spite of that or maybe because of it, it made me listen. Gareth Armstrong will definitely see me listening to more of his reads. Inspector Maigret and the other characters here, but especially him, come to life.
I am not likely to listen to this story again, though it was enjoyable enough first time around. Story was a bit thin and didn't engage me very much - but good enough as background to doing the gardening or going to sleep.
All tied up nicely at the end, though no great surprise, if a bit contorted.
First time I have heard Gareth, but an enjoyable reader within plenty of 'character'.
I tend to use audible like you would use a book shop. I browse most days and delight in finding a new author or series of books.
I remember watching Maigret as a child on the television and I can remember the signature tune and opening titles vividly but I don't think I was aware that it was about drugs and violence. I enjoyed listening to this classic but I think it illustrates how far crime fiction has come. I will probably purchase the next in the series for nostalgic reasons.
I was almost put off by other reviews saying these translations made Maigret less likable but I am glad I took a chance on what is a relatively short audio book in exchange for one of my precious credits. I have listened to this twice and really love the story and the narrator. He does a great job with accents, men's voices and women's. Maigret is a touch 'harder' than the TV series from the 80s but not so much that this couldn't be Michael Gambon still. The story is interesting and has Maigret travelling around, talking to different ranks and interacting with Madame Maigret. I would definitely recommend this.
I am well familiar with both Christie's and Doyle's creations, but I've only ever seen the odd Maigret TV film, and haven't actually read the books. What a treat I'm in for if the rest of the books in the serie are written in the same style!
Fans of any longstanding procedural, whether in books or on screen, will know that while a particular story may leave you cold, if you like the style of the author and the main character, they will carry you through. The central mystery of this book was pretty standard detective fare, but Simenon's writing is wonderful. Before reading the book, I have just finished "The spy who came in from the cold" and so I was able to compare two male authors writing in a vaguely similar field. I was rather disappointed with Carré as it felt that he shoehorned his characters into whatever philosophical argument he wanted to pursue and nothing in his book felt completely believable. Reading Simenon straight after was a joy, as he brings every single character, street and room to life. His style is very descriptive, but never florid and I really felt immersed in the backstreets of prewar Paris.
Gareth Armstrong is a great narrator and he gives just enough individuality to every character without chewing the scenery or adopting silly accents which would have been easy to do given the multicultural cast of the story.
I look forward to the rest of the series!
"Long live Maigret"
I've been disappointed with so many new, highly acclaimed books lately that I find myself turning back to the classics once again. (As usual, curmudgeon that I am). Now I'm working my way back through the Simenon canon and enjoying every minute. I'd almost forgotten how much I loved Maigret! A big, strong, man of few words who can take a bullet and keep on working, never complaining or blaming. For me, that's old school sexy and I'd like to see it come back into style!
The stories are edgy, sometimes raw, and always realistic. Paris is not idealised as it is so often, but shown with all its flaws and very much anchored in that particular postwar time. Simenon knows how to choose just the right detail in his description, saying volumes in a simple but compelling observation. Such simplicity is a great gift, and much appreciated.
In short, you can't go far wrong. The translation is good, the story fast-paced and interesting, and Gareth Armstrong has fantastic pacing, a beautiful voice, and gives us an excellent narration. May you enjoy taking a trip into the old days with the unforgettable, highly original character that is Maigret.
"First of the Maigret books--well narrated"
Georges Simenon, a Belgian writer in early 20th century, wrote many novels--perhaps most notably the Commissaire Jules Maigret series. Maigret is a detective in the French police, and he seems to find his criminal without using the customary procedural methods, but just following his own instincts.
In this book, the first in the series, Maigret is seeking a criminal who eludes him most cleverly. He seems to appear everywhere, only to be elsewhere instead. It begins with Maigret examining a body in the lavatory of a train, who looks like the man he is chasing, but he finds that Pietr has escaped, which begins his pursuit of him in many cities.
The writing is plain, lacking some of the exciting twists and turns of later detective stories, but fun because Simenon has created a character with a distinct personality (his pipe, his hat, his individualized way of pursuing his adversary). He tends to seek "the crack in the wall," meaning he uses a bit of psychology--waiting until he can observe his criminal in a way that shows the parts the man would not have liked to reveal about himself.
This is a very good translation of this book. And the narration is excellent. Recommend to those who enjoy books from the early era of detective fiction.
"How Georges wrote his stories"
Georges had a very structured approach in writing his stories, adhering to a formula in writing much of his work. Living on a houseboat, he might research his story over a long, if fragmented duration. When ready to start the story, he might type the tale sitting outside (presumably weather allowing) on his boat. The writing of the novel would occur over a roughly two week period, typing each morning three hours from 7 to 10 o'clock. Each day, the work would thus advance maybe a chapter a day, with the conclusion and plot structure not determined until actual composition.
"I know this is a classic, but I just don't get it"
Millions love Inspector Maigret, so when I was browsing for something to listen to, I thought: this must be a sure bet. Instead, I ended up with possibly the most boring book I have encountered in years. The plot was completely uninteresting, involving characters I could not care about. Most of the book involved descriptions of Maigret getting wet: by being out in the rain, or walking in shallow water on a beach - uncomfortable for him no doubt, but not really that interesting for me. I did listen to the end but only because: I was on a trip and downloading a new book was difficult, and the narrator was terrific. Perfect voice for the genre and he really worked hard, though ultimately in vain, to make the story interesting.
"BORING. Don't bother. .."
I have no idea why anyone would give this story more than a 3. I can't. No intrigue, no mystery, just boring. Ugh! The nicest thing I can say is it didn't have any foul language.
Great mystery! Truly inspired narration plus a great story makes this a fantastic listen! Can't wait to download the next in series!
"Middle Brow Procedural Shows Its Age"
Reading this novella is like watching a Hitchcock film. You can see a lot of the skill it took to make it, but you can also see – a little sadly in my case – how dated its narrative technology is.
In many respects, this is the dawn of the police procedural. We get to see Inspector Maigret as he sets out, not to solve a crime, but to prove the title character is guilty. We know the formula today, and it’s often done well in television and film, but it’s new here. There’s some historical interest in seeing Simenon unfold (presumably for the first time anywhere) the possibilities of the procedural. For instance, we get the occasional scene from the antagonist’s perspective. And there are striking moments when discarded aspects of life come into significant play: such as when Maigret relies of a call to a hotel switchboard of the sort that no longer exists.
But, truth be told, this feels a lot longer than it is. Just as Hitchcock “builds suspense” by showing us certain shots longer than we expect, the method feels unsuited for a 21st century reader. My take on Hitchcock has long been that his mastery in the 1950s consisted of waiting just a beat too long, of making his viewers hold their breaths for an instant before giving them what they expected or shocking them with what they feared. Hitchcock doesn’t work for most of today’s viewers because, with our shortened attention spans, we’re waiting what feels like a half dozen beats too long. The rhythm is off, so out of sync with our expectations that there’s less suspense than what-are-you-waiting-for irritation.
Simenon is not about suspense, but a good part of this one is about watch-me-show-you-how-it’s-done. We get, for instance, a quick refresher about the fact of “hit men,” professional killers hired by organized crime. That may have felt like esoteric information when this came out; now it feels condescending.
I suspect (on the basis of his reputation) that Simenon got better the farther he went with these. As this one unfolds, however, the plot gets more and more contrived. Our title character is two people, then he’s one person playing his identical twin brother. For a time he’s a heartless killer and international thief, and then he’s a weary ex-patriate who no longer wants to hurt anyone. I confess I got lost in the final unraveling, but I confess as well that I had stopped caring.
There are elements here worth paying real attention to (probably more attention than I paid), and I may give a later Maigret another shot. Still, this feels as “middle-brow” as Hitchcock has come to feel for me: a kind of art that, however impressive it was in its day, looks more and more like a sullied compromise between what the cutting edge was doing and what the uncritical market wanted.
This is probably a three-star book given its historical significance and the fact that it is, all these years later, a model of efficient story-telling. Still, I have to ding it another star for its casual, unembarrassed anti-Semitism. That may add to the historical quality, but it’s a downer to read all the same.
"Real crime here is the English accent narration"
No this genre, but certainly this Audible series as they are all narrated in an English accent
Mr Armstrong is a wonderful narrator. But Audible should have chosen someone with a French accent to narrate this French story. This was like listening to Sherlock Holmes with a Spanish accent.
Why in the world would Audible take a classic French detective series and have it narrated with an English accent? So much of the atmosphere and locality is completely missed when the characters of a French detective novel speak with English accents (except, oddly enough, the Latvian).
"The stoic Inspector Maigret"
A detective mystery set in inter-war France, this was my first encounter with the famous Inspector Magritte, who apparently was the subject of over seventy novels that Georges Simenon wrote over a period of forty years.
Maigret is a rather stoic detective, who suffers various injuries and poisonings over the course of his hunt for Piotr the Latvian, the leader of a gang of Eastern European criminals. The tools and methods of police procedurals were still new when Simenon started writing this series, so probably made the stories more fascinating than they are to modern readers, who are now familiar with generations of police detectives and private gumshoes and all their various permutations.
Simenon's work does excel in the area of characterization, as the central mystery of the story is not really whodunnit, but who Pietr the Latvian really is. Not just his true identity, but what sort of man he is, what is his real role in life. Magritte uncovers multiple layers of his quarry's life, and still leaves the reader, like the inspector, with unanswered questions.
This was interesting as a sampler, but I have always found French writing to be hit or miss for me. These books may be classics (and lordy there are a lot of them!), but I'm not sure I'd care to read more unless I stumble upon one here or there as another Audible Daily Deal.
"Kind of Bland Story"
Couldn't get into this story and felt most of the characters were uninteresting. Also, not sure if the author is anti-Semitic or just depicting the anti-semitism of the time. Probably will pass on the rest of the series.
The narrator is quite good and I would listen to his narration of another author.
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