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.
Penguin is publishing the entire series of Maigret novels in new translations. 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 . . . 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