Georges Simenon wrote 75 books featuring Maigret, the French police investigator. Most of these books are out-of-print. Today, the New York Review of Books Press is reprinting some of Simenon’s work, but they’re non-Maigrets. Maigret’s method is intuitive. He interviews people and by the book’s end, he figures out the crime. The books themselves are atmospheric. Maigret’s Pickpocket (aka, Maigret and the Pickpocket) begins with Maigret getting his pocket picked. Later, the pickpocket returns Maigret’s wallet, but then tells him why he picked Maigret’s pocket: his wife was murdered. Maigret’s investigation of the pickpocket’s murdered wife leads him to confront the arts community and a powerful film producer. Maigret sorts out the tangled life of the murdered women and discovers the truth about her. If you haven’t read Georges Simenon, you’re missing one of the great writers of the 20th Century.

25 thoughts on “FORGOTTEN BOOKS #22: MAIGRET’S PICKPOCKET By Georges Simenon

  1. David Cranmer

    It’s always the psychology behind the crime with Maigret and that, of course, is what makes these novels unique. I read Maigret and the Wine Merchant a few months back and have been meaning to get to another one.

    1. george Post author

      I think it’s a blend of psychology and the cultural setting that Maigret explores to solve the crime that makes these novels unique.

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    I’ve read all the Maigrets and in general (like Art Scott) prefer them to Simenon’s other work.

  3. Patti Abbott

    I remember sitting on the beach at age 20 and reading Simenon and Christie. They seeme d equally good to my 20 year old self but not now. And to think he wrote most of then in three weeks.

    1. george Post author

      If you remember sitting on the beach at age 20 and reading Simenon and Christie, today’s and tomorrow’s postings will give you a deja vu experience, Patti.

  4. Todd Mason

    It might help, to some small extent, that along with the Swedish WALLANDER films, the little (but growing…just now visible in Philadelphia) public-broadcasting network MHz WorldView is running MAIGRET films (the Bruno Cremer series) in their weekly INTERNATIONAL MYSTERY wheel. Along with yet other things, such as the German TATORT (SCENE OF THE CRIME) and the Italian HOMICIDE SQUAD series, and more.

  5. Rick Robinson

    I have 29 of them, all that were in print when I decided to buy as many paperbacks as I could. Would have been about 1990. I’ve not read that many of them, but am always hopeful one will jump off the shelf and into my hands just when I need a new mystery to read.

  6. Rick Robinson

    These are not for sale or trade, but If anyone cares, here are the books I have, in alphabetical order: Maigret & the Apparition, Maigret & the Bum, Maigret & the Calame Report, Maigret & the Death of a Harbor-Master, Maigret & the Headless Corpse, Maigret & the Hotel Majestic, Maigret & the Killer, Maigret & the Madwoman, Maigret & the Man on the Bench, Maigret & the Pickpocket, Maigret & the Relucant Witness, Maigret & the Spinster, Maigret & the Tavern by the Seine, Maigret & the Wine Merchant, Maigret Afraid, Maigret at the Coroner’s, Maigret Bides his time, Maigret has Scruples, Maigret Hesitates, Maigret in Exile, Maigret in Montmarte, Maigret in Vichy, Maigret Loses His Temper, Maigret Sets a Trap, Maigret’s Boyhood Friend, Maigret’s Mistake, Maigret’s Pipe (short stories), Maigret’s Revolver, Maigret’s Rival

    1. george Post author

      That’s a pretty fair representation of the series, Rick. I wonder if Jeff or Art, who’ve read them all, have a favorite.

  7. Art Scott

    I can’t say I’ve read them all. because I don’t have them all. Years ago I wrestled with Hubin and the books I had, trying to sort out the French to English title changes and produce a have/want list. I gave it up as too much work. Interesting that your post appears just as I’m in the midst of one of my Maigret re-read orgies (happens every 5 or 6 years). I read Pickpocket last week. I’ll often read 2 or 3 at once (well, shifting back and forth), right now I’m doing Harbor-Master, Crossroads & Saturday Caller. My list of titles looks like Rick’s, a mongrel mix of old Penguins, more recent Joves, the Curtis titles (all falling apart at the spine), a few Signets and Aces (including a Double!), and some ex-lib hardcover collections (Maigret Trio, 5 Times Maiget, etc.). No single favorite.

    1. george Post author

      Here’s the Maigret list I’m working from:
      Title Date English Title(s)
      Pietr-le-Letton 1931 The Strange Case of Peter the Lett
      The Case of Peter the Lett
      Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett
      Le Charretier de la Providence 1931 The Crime at Lock 14
      Maigret Meets a Milord
      Lock 14
      M. Gallet décédé 1931 The Death of Monsieur Gallet
      Maigret Stonewalled
      Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien 1931 The Crime of Inspector Maigret
      Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets
      La Tête d’un homme
      (L’Homme de la Tour Eiffel) 1931 A Battle of Nerves
      Maigret’s War of Nerves
      A Man’s Head
      Le Chien jaune 1931 A Face for a Clue
      Maigret and the Concarneau Murders
      Maigret and the Yellow Dog
      The Yellow Dog
      La Nuit du carrefour 1931 Maigret at the Crossroads
      Un Crime en Hollande 1931 A Crime in Holland
      Maigret in Holland
      Au Rendez-vous des Terre-Neuves 1931 The Sailor’s Rendezvous
      Maigret Answers a Plea
      La Danseuse du Gai-Moulin 1931 At the Gai Moulin
      Maigret at the Gai Moulin
      La Guinguette à deux sous 1932 Guinguette by the Seine
      Maigret and the Tavern by the Seine
      Maigret to the Rescue
      A Spot by the Seine
      The Bar on the Seine
      L’Ombre chinoise 1932 The Shadow in the Courtyard
      Maigret Mystified
      L’Affaire Saint-Fiacre 1932 Maigret and the Countess
      The Saint-Fiacre Affair
      Maigret Goes Home
      Maigret on Home Ground
      Chez les Flamands 1932 The Flemish Shop
      Maigret and the Flemish Shop
      Le Port des brumes 1932 Death of a Harbour Master
      Maigret and the Death of a Harbor Master
      Le Fou de Bergerac 1932 The Madman of Bergerac
      Liberty Bar 1932 Liberty Bar
      Maigret on the Riviera
      L’Écluse no. 1 1933 The Lock at Charenton
      Maigret Sits It Out
      Lock No. 1
      Maigret 1934 Maigret Returns
      La Maison du juge 1940 Maigret in Exile
      Les Caves du Majestic 1942 Maigret and the Hotel Majestic
      The Hotel Majestic
      Cécile est morte 1942 Maigret and the Spinster
      Signé Picpus 1944 To Any Lengths
      Maigret and the Fortuneteller
      Félicie est là 1944 Maigret and the Toy Village
      L’Inspecteur Cadavre 1944 Maigret’s Rival
      Inspector Cadaver
      Maigret se fâche August 1945 Maigret in Retirement
      Maigret à New York March 1946 Maigret in New York
      Inspector Maigret in New York’s Underworld
      Maigret in New York’s Underworld
      Les Vacances de Maigret November 1947 A Summer Holiday
      No Vacation for Maigret
      Maigret on Holiday
      Maigret et son mort January 1948 Maigret’s Dead Man
      Maigret’s Special Murder
      La Première enquête de Maigret, 1913 October 1948 Maigret’s First Case
      Mon ami Maigret February 1949 My Friend Maigret
      The Methods of Maigret
      Maigret chez le coroner July 1949 Maigret at the Coroner’s
      L’Amie de Mme Maigret December 1949 Madame Maigret’s Own Case
      Madame Maigret’s Friend
      The Friend of Madame Maigret
      Les Mémoires de Maigret September 1950 Maigret’s Memoirs
      Maigret et la vieille dame December 1950 Maigret and the Old Lady
      Maigret au “Picratt’s” December 1950 Maigret and the Strangled Stripper
      Maigret in Montmartre
      Inspector Maigret and the Strangled Stripper
      Maigret en meublé February 1951 Maigret Takes a Room
      Maigret Rents a Room
      Maigret et la grande perche May 1951 Inspector Maigret and the Burglar’s Wife
      Maigret and the Burglar’s Wife
      Maigret, Lognon et les gangsters September 1951 Inspector Maigret and the Killers
      Maigret and the Gangsters
      Le Revolver de Maigret June 1952 Maigret’s Revolver
      Maigret et l’homme du banc 1953 Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard
      Maigret and the Man on the Bench
      The Man on the Boulevard
      Maigret a peur March 1953 Maigret Afraid
      Maigret se trompe August 1953 Maigret’s Mistake
      Maigret à l’école December 1953 Maigret Goes to School
      Maigret et la jeune morte January 1954 Inspector Maigret and the Dead Girl
      Maigret and the Young Girl
      Maigret chez le ministre August 1954 Maigret and the Minister
      Maigret and the Calame Report
      Maigret et le corps sans tête January 1955 Maigret and the Headless Corpse
      Maigret tend un piège July 1955 Maigret Sets a Trap
      Un Échec de Maigret March 1956 Maigret’s Failure
      Maigret s’amuse September 1956 Maigret’s Little Joke
      None of Maigret’s Business
      Maigret voyage August 1957 Maigret and the Millionaires
      Les Scrupules de Maigret December 1957 Maigret Has Scruples
      Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants October 1958 Maigret and the Reluctant Witnesses
      Une Confidence de Maigret May 1959 Maigret Has Doubts
      Maigret aux assises November 1959 Maigret In Court
      Maigret et les vieillards June 1960 Maigret in Society
      Maigret et le voleur paresseux January 1961 Maigret and the Lazy Burglar
      Maigret and the Idle Burglar
      Maigret et les braves gens September 1961 Maigret and the Black Sheep
      Maigret et le client du samedi February 1962 Maigret and the Saturday Caller
      Maigret et le clochard May 1962 Maigret and the Dosser
      Maigret and the Bum
      La Colère de Maigret June 1962 Maigret Loses His Temper
      Maigret et le fantôme June 1963 Maigret and the Ghost
      Maigret and the Apparition
      Maigret se défend July 1964 Maigret on the Defensive
      La Patience de Maigret March 1965 The Patience of Maigret
      Maigret Bides His Time
      Maigret et l’affaire Nahour February 1966 Maigret and the Nahour Case
      Le Voleur de Maigret November 1966 Maigret’s Pickpocket
      Maigret and the Pickpocket
      Maigret à Vichy September 1967 Maigret Takes the Waters
      Maigret in Vichy
      Maigret hésite January 1968 Maigret Hesitates
      L’Ami d’enfance de Maigret June 1968 Maigret’s Boyhood Friend
      Maigret et le tueur April 1969 Maigret and the Killer
      Maigret et le marchand de vin September 1969 Maigret and the Wine Merchant
      La Folle de Maigret May 1970 Maigret and the Madwoman
      Maigret et l’homme tout seul February 1971 Maigret and the Loner
      Maigret et l’indicateur June 1971 Maigret and the Flea
      Maigret and the Informer
      Maigret et Monsieur Charles February 1972 Maigret and Monsieur Charles

      [edit] List of short stories

      List of Maigret short stories by date of publication.
      Title Date English Title(s)
      Une erreur de Maigret 1938 Maigret’s Mistake
      L’amoureux de Madame Maigret 1938 The Stronger Vessel
      Madame Maigret’s Admirer
      Stan le tueur 1938 Stan the Killer
      L’Auberge aux noyés 1938 The Inn of the Drowned
      The Drowned Men’s Inn
      La péniche aux deux pendus 1938 The Barge with Two Hanging Bodies
      Inspector Maigret Thinks
      Dead Man’s Barge
      Two Bodies on a Barge
      L’affaire du Boulevard Beaumarchais 1938 The Affair of the Boulevard Beaumarchais
      The Mysterious Affair in the Boulevard Beaumarchais
      Monsieur Lundi 1938 Mr. Monday
      Inspector Maigret Hesitates
      Jeumont, 51 minutes d’arrêt 1938 Jeumont, 51 Minutes Wait!
      Inspector Maigret Deduces
      Jeumont, 51 Minutes Stop
      Les larmes de bougie 1938 Journey Into Time
      Journey Backward Into Time
      Death of a Woodlander
      Rue Pigalle 1938 Rue Pigalle
      Inspector Maigret Investigates
      In the Rue Pigalle
      La vieille dame de Bayeux 1938 The Old Lady of Bayeux
      L’Étoile du Nord 1938 At the Étoile du Nord
      Tempête sur la Manche 1938 Storm in the Channel
      Storm over the Channel
      Mademoiselle Berthe et son amant 1938 Maigret and the Frightened Dressmaker
      Mademoiselle Berthe and her Lover
      L’improbable Monsieur Owen 1938 The Unlikely Monsieur Owen
      Ceux du Grand Café 1938 The Group at the Grand-Café
      Le Notaire du Châteauneuf 1938 Inspector Maigret and the Missing Miniatures
      The Three Daughters of the Lawyer
      La fenêtre ouverte 1938 The Open Window
      Inspector Maigret Smokes His Pipe
      L’Homme dans la rue 1939 The Man on the Run
      Inspector Maigret Pursues
      The Man in the Street
      Vente à la bougie 1939 Under the Hammer
      Inspector Maigret Directs
      Sale by Auction
      Menaces de mort 1942 Death Threats
      La pipe de Maigret June 1945 Maigret’s Pipe
      Le témoinage de l’enfant de choeur 1946 Elusive Witness
      According to the Altar Boy
      Crime in the Rue Sainte-Catherine
      The Evidence of the Altar-Boy
      Le client le plus obstiné du monde May 1946 The Most Obstinate Man in Paris
      The Most Obstinate Customer in the World
      The Most Obstinate Man in the World
      Maigret et l’inspecteur malgracieux May 1946 Maigret and the Surly Inspector
      On ne tue pas les pauvres types August 1946 Death of a Nobody
      Sous peine de mort November 1946 Inspector Maigret’s War of Nerves
      Death Penalty
      Les petits cochons sans queue November 1946 ‘
      Un Noël de Maigret May 1950 Maigret’s Christmas

  8. Jeff Meyerson

    Going to England in the summers to buy books enabled me to get a lot of the old Penguins, and the then (1970’s) newer 3-in-1’s had one or two Maigrets. I picked up some of the later hardbacks remaindered and little by little I got them all.

    Check this site for the best lists.

  9. Rick Robinson

    George, that looks a lot like the list on I have gone through mine and out them in original publishing order and have pulled my oldest, MAIGRET AND THE DEATH OF A HARBOR- MASTER (Harvest edition). All this reminds me a little of my plunge into some Ellery Queen novels last year, after reading a review of the Wrightsville novels. That’s okay, it’s all good. All this will undoubtedly wind up in LETHAL INTERJECTIONS.

    Look what you started, George. Good.

  10. Art Scott

    Did any of you Maigret freaks follow the British tv series with Michael Gambon that ran on PBS some years ago? I watched a couple, thought Gambon was physically an ideal Maigret, but was put off by everybody speaking BBC English, except French-inflecting names. Yeah, I know, if they were all doing Charles Boyer imitations that wouldn’t work either. Still it didn’t seem right; also the fact that “Paris” was actually shot in Poland or some such Eastern European locale.

    1. george Post author

      I found the British accents annoying, too. Patti didn’t like the use of British slang in the BBC WALLANDER series that was supposed to take place in Sweden.

  11. Rick Robinson

    I saw four of them, I think, and enjoyed them. I agree that Gambon was a perfect Maigret. The series ran for 12 episodes 1992-1993, and watching those was what made me want to buy the books. I don’t remember now that the accents or lack of them bothered me, only that the shows were well done and had good cinematography as well as plotting and casting. The episodes are available on DVD.

    Also available are many episodes with Bruno Cremer as Maigret (in French with English subtitles, I believe).

  12. Jeff Meyerson

    I remember the Gambon series. It was filmed in Budapest, Art. They had Lucas, Janvier and “young” Lapointe as I remember. Gambon was good but the series, just OK.

    George, I noticed the British slang in the Wallander series but was more put off byt the sheer (to coin a word) depressingness of the third show in particular. I thought the second of the three came off best and Branagh was better than I’d expected.

    1. george Post author

      If you thought the third episode of WALLANDER was depressing, you should read Henning Mankell’s books. Each is bleaker than the book before it.

  13. Rick Robinson

    After all this, and reading two Perry Mason novels (titles on request), I’ve started HARBOR-MASTER. What a difference from the Mason books! The only complaint I have is the print in the Harvest editions is pretty darn small.

    1. george Post author

      Beth really hates the Perry Mason books. I’ve found some of them tough going. I try to read the Maigrets in hardcover just to get bigger print and a nicer font than the paperbacks. Which Perry Masons did you read, Rick?


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