The nine stories included here are: Maigret's Christmas, Seven little crosses in a notebook, Maigret and the surly inspector, The evidence of the altar-boy, The most obstinate customer in the world, Death of a nobody, Sale by auction, The man in the street, and Maigret in retirement. As you would expect with any anthology some of the tales are better than others; but there's not a bad story among them. For long-term fans of the detective three of the tales - Maigret's Christmas, Maigret in retirement and The evidence of the altar-boy -- shed more light on Maigret's own background.
The best tale though is the only non-Maigret story; the superb Seven little crosses in a notebook. Police headquarters in Paris are galvanised into action after a series of alarms are raised at police call-boxes across the city as a small boy goes hot on the trail of a murderer. It manages to be both charming and riveting reading with an emotional heart to the story too. Quite simply Simenon at his best.
He's such a clever writer. Yes, sometimes he can sound a little dated (although I love the naive idea that policemen should catch taxis or buses everywhere), and some of Maigret's questioning techniques would undoubtedly raise quite a few eyebrows nowadays. But none of this detracts from Simenon's brilliantly atmospheric writing - he captures a sense of place better than any other crime writer. His crime stories remain clever, and will endure long after many another twentieth-century crime writer is forgotten. I wish I could be in Paris, but if you can't be in Paris the next best thing is to read Maigret.