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Pietr the Latvian Audiobook

Pietr the Latvian: Inspector Maigret, Book 1

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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance


There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Sort by:
  • Die Falknerin
    19/11/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    48 of 49 people found this review helpful
  • Kathi
    Sterling, VA, United States
    3/03/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    37 of 40 people found this review helpful
  • Marco Antonio Lara
    Houston
    16/10/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    18 of 23 people found this review helpful
  • Laura Wahlers
    Western North Carolina
    8/10/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Ann
    beautiful Colorado
    7/10/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great Mystery!"

    Great mystery! Truly inspired narration plus a great story makes this a fantastic listen! Can't wait to download the next in series!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Neal
    United States
    4/10/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Real crime here is the English accent narration"
    Has Pietr the Latvian turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No this genre, but certainly this Audible series as they are all narrated in an English accent


    What didn’t you like about Gareth Armstrong’s performance?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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).

    40 of 68 people found this review helpful
  • analyzethis
    USA, Europe, M.E.
    8/12/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Joe Kraus
    Kingston, PA, United States
    24/10/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Middle Brow Procedural Shows Its Age"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Skysewblue
    12/10/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Lost in the translation"
    What did you like best about Pietr the Latvian? What did you like least?

    I listened to the whole book. Nice performance. But the plot was hard to follow and I never understood or really cared about any of the characters. There was a nice twist at the end that tied up a lot of loose ends but it wasn’t enough for me to want to read another of his books.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • M. Gobet
    Portland, Oregon
    8/10/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "ended too quickly"

    This story has the potential to be longer. but feels like it was brought to a close quickly. still a nice one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • ReadingWild
    England
    10/11/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "At last the book not the play."
    What made the experience of listening to Pietr the Latvian the most enjoyable?

    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!


    What did you like best about this story?

    Crime mystery at its intricate best.


    Have you listened to any of Gareth Armstrong’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    Really well read - the many voices are all distinct and played with conviction


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    AT LAST A DECENT FILM


    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Charlie T.
    Glasgow, Scotland
    22/12/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Greatr performance, flawed story"

    Excellent entertainment provided you gloss over some infelicities in the story itself. The reading is spot on.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Annie
    Brentwood, United Kingdom
    8/08/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I couldn't stop listening!"
    What did you like most about Pietr the Latvian?

    I love these tales & this didn't disappoint.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Viv
    28/01/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Easy Reading of a classic cop"
    Would you listen to Pietr the Latvian again? Why?

    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.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    All tied up nicely at the end, though no great surprise, if a bit contorted.


    Have you listened to any of Gareth Armstrong’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    First time I have heard Gareth, but an enjoyable reader within plenty of 'character'.


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Patricia
    scunthorpe, United Kingdom
    11/12/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A memory of times past"

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Ginger
    15/09/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "So so"

    Not the best Maigret story. The character of the detective shines through. The descriptions are good but the plot is thin.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    FRance
    4/06/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant as always"

    Excellent story. Excellent narrator very good characterisation thoroughly good read as it were. two words

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Ms Lixie
    London, United Kingdom
    22/07/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Loved the TV series, now loving the audio books"

    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.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • BarbicanBoy
    3/05/16
    Overall
    "Margaret the 1st"

    My 1st Maigret in a form other than tv was very interesting a complex plot kept one one involved all the way through. A good listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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