GEORGES SIMENON – Maigret in New York. Inspector Maigret #27. Penguin, softcover, 2016; translated by Linda Coverdale. First published as Maigret à New York, Paris, 1947. First British publication: H. Hamilton, hardcover, 1979. First published in the US as Maigret in New York’s Underworld, Doubleday, hardcover, 1955. Also published in the US as Inspector Maigret in New York’s Underworld, Signet, paperback, 1956.

   The title tells the whole story. All I have to do is fill in the details. Maigret is retired and living quietly at home when a young French lad calls on him and asks him to come with him to New York where he believes his father, a very rich businessman, is in trouble and perhaps afraid for his life.

   Maigret agrees, but as soon as their ship docks, the boy disappears, and the father does not seem at all concerned. Not convinced, Maigret stays on the case, even though he is, not surprisingly, akin to a fish out of his natural habitat.

   It is that part of the tale that is the more interesting; the problems of the Maura family, with its roots far in the past, less so. But after being quite overwhelmed at the beginning of his stay in the ultimate of American cities, Maigret soon rights himself, and as per his usual custom, sits in a bar alone thinking, and finally puts all the threads of the plot back together again — demonstrating that an expert in human behavior need not have all the comforts of home to get to the bottom of things.

   It is the characters who make the story, in other words, as almost always is the case in a Maigret novel, but this time around that includes Maigret as well.