"One of the greatest writers of the twentieth century . . . Simenon was unequaled at making us look inside, though the ability was masked by his brilliance at absorbing us obsessively in his stories." —The Guardian
The Maigret novels were one of the first series of mysteries I fell in love with as an adult. Though not as well known in the US, "Georges Simenon is one of the most addictive & bestselling European authors of the 20th Century. His work consists of 391 titles, but he is best known as the creator of the fictional detective series consisting of 75 books featuring Inspector Maigret, translated into more than 50 languages & sold in more than 50 countries."
And Penguin Classics is now re-publishing the entire Maigret series with new translations, each with a different translator! Appearing once a month in the order of original publication, these newly translated editions began appearing in November 2013 & are still continuing to be published.
Which Book Should You read first?
Though some things change in the inspector's life, the books are essentially standalone & don't need to be read in order. Instead of beginning with book #1 which isn't as polished, I'd suggest starting with Maigret's Dead Man shown here as it epitomizes the series, is an engrossing mystery, & is translated by an award-winning translator.
Praise for the Maigret Novels
With a backdrop primarily of Paris & originally published in the 1930s & 1940s, these stories will whisk you away to a different time & place much like the British Sherlock Holmes stories from the late 1800s/early 1900s do. But like the older Sherlock novels, please keep in mind that these books can include some things nowadays considered unsavory or outdated. Nevertheless, the Maigret novels continue to be well loved as you can see from the quotes below & I can't wait to read the books again.
"These Maigret books are as timeless as Paris itself." —The Washington Post
"Maigret ranks with Holmes and Poirot in the pantheon of fictional detective immortals." —People
"A supreme writer . . . Unforgettable vividness." —The Independent (London)
"Superb . . . The most addictive of writers . . . A unique teller of tales." —The Observer (London)