If I had all the time in the world, then Simenon is another author that I would tackle from the beginning. MAIGRET TAKES THE WATERS is one of two novels (the other is MAIGRET HESITATES) inside the red cover to the right of centre in the photograph. The inscription on the flyleaf indicates I bought this in 1971, and I think I'd be right in saying, as I generally don't read books twice, that it has sat unopened for at least the last 35 years.
But there was a time I read whatever Maigret novels I could find. They are deceptively short - MAIGRET TAKES THE WATERS comes in at 143 pages - and they were ideal for taking on holidays. I remember them mainly being in the green Penguin livery.
MAIGRET TAKES THE WATERS was published in 1968 as MAIGRET IN VICHY.
From an Amazon review:
Feeling more than a little mortal, the famous Inspector Maigret has been instructed by his physician to take the cure at Vichy. He and Mme. Maigret speedily develop a daily routine at the spa, and an interest in the characters they see around them. The most enigmatic of these personalities is one they name "the lady in lilac." Will Maigret be able to resist becoming involved when this lady becomes the center of a murder investigation?
My library network lists 13 Maigret titles, but 2 of them are in Italian, 2 in Spanish, and 1 in French. MAIGRET TAKES THE WATERS is not amongst them.
Sadly it would be rather hard to take on a challenge to read all the Maigret novels beginning with the first in 1931. There's a good, but apparently not complete, list, on Wikipedia if you want to chase around the used book shops.
There are 76 titles in the list, nearly all translated into English, but confusingly some of them had as many as 3 alternative titles. The last was published in 1972.
However according to Wikipedia he wrote nearly 200 novels, over 150 novellas, several autobiographical works, numerous articles, and scores of pulp novels written under more than two dozen pseudonyms.
Although usually regarded as French, Georges Simenon (1903-1989) was, like Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, Belgian, although he generally wrote in French. Christie (1890-1976) was really a contemporary of Simenon, although she was born just over 10 years earlier than him published her first novel 10 years earlier too. Simenon left Belgium for France in 1922, and lived in Paris until 1945. In 1945-1955 Simenon lived in the United States, returning to France and then Switzerland in 1955.
While Christie focussed on whodunnit, Simenon often seemed more interested in whydunnit. While Christie pioneered the cozy, Simenon had more in common with writers like Frederick Glauser, and recent writers like Michael Robotham. But Simenon was economic with words, and many of his novels were characterised by brevity and minimalist description.