Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon

This is the first Maigret novel and it has the feel of a prototype. Maigret is bigger, somehow, and more ungainly. But he still drinks plenty of beer and the plot resolves neatly. It involves switches of identity, which always strain credulity a little.

It is also, clearly, a bit older. France immediately after the war was quite a bit less materially well off than even the 1950s and 1960s, when most of these novels are set.

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