Maigret in New York, Georges Simenon, 1947 

My very first disappointing Maigret!  I think it was because Simenon had his classic detective in NYC rather than in Paris or elsewhere in France and the authenticity was missing and felt forced.  The story is thin, with Maigret at 56 in retirement in Loire.  Approached by a 19 year old worried about his father in NYC, Maigret drops everything and jumps on an ocean liner for his first trip to the US.  A far-fetched story involving French immigrant musicians, a menage a trois, Sicilian gangsters, two murders, juke boxes, the FBI—well you get the idea.  The best part of the book is the wonderful new edition from Penguin, the introductory bio on Simenon in which he is quoted: “My motto, to the extent that I have one, has been noted often enough, and I’ve always conformed to it.  It’s the one I’ve given to old Maigret, who resembles me in certain points….”understand and judge not”.  There is in addition a page full of hagiographic comments about Simenon from Faulkner, Muriel Spark, Andre Gide, P.D. James, and John Banville who wrote “Extraordinary masterpieces of the twentieth century”.  Not a bad crowd of adulators!