Together the Maigrets add up to a huge, utterly coherent inventory of lust, fear, greed, ambition, jealousy and long-hidden pain, brought to light by an implacably curious mind. Simenon’s slimmed-down vocabulary (2,000 words or so) adds to their taut intensity. He called them “semi-literary” works and wished to be judged for his darkly brilliant romans durs (“tough novels”). Yet André Gide — one of Simenon’s countless literary devotees — meant Maigret too when he lauded the Belgian as “the greatest of all, the most genuine novelist we have had”. Penguin’s complete shelf of gem-hard soul-probes should allow a new generation to understand why.