Georges Simenon was a Belgian-French novelist who was perhaps the most widely published author of the 20th Century.

The first novel to appear under Simenon’s own name was Pietr-le-Letton (1929; Pietr the Latvian), in which he introduced the imperturbable, pipe-smoking Parisian police inspector Jules Maigret to fiction. Simenon went on to write 83 more detective novels featuring Inspector Maigret. His total literary output consisted of about 425 books that were translated into some 50 languages and sold more than 600 million copies worldwide. Many of his works have been the basis of feature films or television series.

Despite these other works, Simenon remains inextricably linked with Inspector Maigret, who is one of the best-known characters in detective fiction. Unlike fictional detectives who rely on immense deductive powers or on police procedure, Maigret solves murders using mainly psychological intuition and a patiently sought, compassionate understanding of the perpetrator’s motives and emotional composition. Simenon’s central theme is the essential humanity of even the isolated, abnormal individual and the sorrow at the root of the human condition. Employing a style of rigorous simplicity, he evokes a prevailing atmosphere of neurotic tensions with sharp economy.