Well, of course we exaggerate a bit. Naturally we can always order in any of the first 35 that we missed (and in fact we just did, buying 14 of the earlier books from Libra in District VIII), but it won't be quite the same as the pleasant feeling of anticipation each month as we waited for the latest reissue to show up in the mailbox.

The large-scale resissue project began in November 2013 with the very first 1931 "Maigret", "Pietr the Latvian", or to give it the original French title, "Pietr-le-Letton", and once we became aware of what was going on in mid-2016 we joined the party and have featured every book from numbers 36 to now 74.

When Maigret is gone we 'll miss his milieu of Paris and sometimes further afield in France those decades ago. Belgian author Georges Simenon was born in Liege in 1903 and moved to Paris when he was 19 years old. He liked the seamy side of life, and "Maigret and the Informer", originally published in 1971, typically thrusts Maigret into the Montmartre bars and bistros, strip clubs and brothels, peopled by prostitutes and pimps, that are his routine beat. Not to mention the cobbled streets, payphones and platform buses, the gloom of November or the heat of August.

We'll miss the priapic Simenon, who was never one to miss the opportunity to ogle a bit of female flesh, imaginary or otherwise. A typical description from "Maigret and the Informer": "She was still wearing nothing under her dressing gown ... She didn't pay any mind to her dressing gown, which hung open. Her skin was very pale, probably very soft."

Simenon was a great habitué of brothels, and here he is again: "[The murdered man] had risen through the ranks when he was about thirty, becoming proprietor of what at the time was one of the most famous brothels in Paris, in Rue de Hanovre."

The author fiddled with Parisian street numbers and place names in his writings, throwing in existing ones alongside those he invented, or shifting places around, but if there was a famous brothel in Rue de Hanovre we feel sure he would have dutifully attended, for background colour, of course.

We'll miss the strange Simenonisms: "He nearly became a jockey, but his apprenticeship only lasted a couple of days because he was afraid of horses", or " ... a bathroom which was large enough to have a punchbag set up in the middle," or "He had lost his hair so gradually that no one noticed he was completely bald these days".

And the strange suppositions that helped Maigret solve a case – "Madame Marcia ... is a woman of taste who'd never wear a brightly coloured coat mixing greens, reds and yellows like that", according to the Detective Chief Inspector's reasoning.

And then there are the occasional puzzling plot inconsistencies. When the body of Monsieur Maurice, the proprietor of Le Sardine restaurant, is found, he has "'A big roll of notes – three or four thousand francs, I haven't counted – in his hip pocket'." But soon after, Simenon offers: "Monsieur Maurice hadn't been carrying any money that night but he had still gone back to his office to fetch his gun."

We'll miss the touching moments between Maigret and his hugely dependable wife, Madame Maigret, Louise. The couple lead an irreproachable marital life at 132 Boulevard Richard-Lenoir. When Maigret was leaving for Orly Airport to follow a lead in Bandol: "He felt a bit emotional all the same, as he did whenever he spent more than a day away from his wife."

We'll miss the regular monthly visits by the Maigrets to their friends Doctor and Madame Pardon for dinner. In a chummy arrangement, the Pardons alternate with visits to the Maigrets: "Since his old friend Pardon had warned him about his health he drank much less than before and sometimes kept a pipe clamped between his teeth long after it had gone out."

"Maigret and the Informer" was originally published as "Maigret et l'indicateur" in 1971 and was earlier translated as "Maigret and the Flea", this being the nickname of the informer, a runt of a man who stealthily moves around collecting incriminating information that he shares with Inspector Louis of the 9th arrondissement.

Maurice Maurice, the ex-gangster owner of the fashionable Le Sardine, on the Rue Fontaine, is found murdered in the Avenue Junot, apparently having been killed elsewhere. Le Sardine is patronised by the leading lights of society, the art world and the underworld. Unusually, he'd left his restaurant earlier than was normal, during the late evening, after receiving a phone call.

Inspector Louis, who works the Pigalle red light/nightclub district and knows it well, receives a tip-off from his anonymous long-time informer, who seems to know all about the murder. Louis brings the information to Maigret with a kind of shy pride. He is very happy to be working with the great man.

The tip is that Manuel Mori is the killer. He and his brother, Jo Mori, are suspected of being behind the château gang, who have committed a series of unsolved burglaries of unoccupied villas. Maurice Maurice's wife of four years, Line Marcia, 30 years younger than him, seems the perfect bereaved widow but soon it appears she is actually Manuel Mori's mistress.

Maigret confronts Manuel Mori and learns that the Flea's real name is Justin Crotton. This is much to the embarrassment of Inspector Louis, who never knew for years the identity of his mysterious phone caller and has been "scooped" in 24 hours by the superior he was hoping to impress.

And so we progress to the denouement, of the book and the series, whereupon we are going to miss the enigma of Simenon, for whom the superlatives flow from notables such as André Gide ("The greatest of all"), the Observer ("Superb"), the Independent ("A supreme writer"), Muriel Spark ("A truly wonderful writer") and several more, reprinted in the Penguins. An enigma, because although we are fascinated followers, and have been for five decades, we don't go quite that far with the accolades, having been burned on a few occasions by a dashed-off, unfocused, rag-tag effort, more often the non-"Maigret"s.

Apart from his age, 68 and nearing retirement, perhaps by 1971 a tiring Simenon was beginning to see the disappearance of some of the old Paris he had haunted: "The Moris' warehouse was on the edge of Les Halles, which was physically intact – they hadn"t started demolishing the buildings – but silent now that trading had moved to Rungis. Rue du Caire was one of the many streets where you found wholesalers and warehouses rubbing shoulders with short-stay hotels and seedy bars. In a year it would probably all be a heap of rubble."

"Maigret and the Informer", though, still finds the man writing fairly strongly. We're going to miss Detective Chief Inspector Jules Maigret of the Police Judiciaire at the Quai des Orfèvres in Paris when he's "gone".


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