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Seeking Who He May Devour
Chief Inspector Adamsberg Mysteries, No 3
Fred Vargas

Simon & Schuster
1999 / ISBN 9780743284028
Pol Procedural / France / Contemporary

Reviewed by L J Roberts

First Sentence: On Tuesday, four sheep were killed at Ventebrune in the French Alps.

Camille is a composer and plumber living in a small French Alp village where sheep are being killer by an unseen beast. The murder of a townswoman raises suspicion of a werewolf. Residents begin to suspect Massart, a loner who came to the area 20 year ago and has now disappeared. The woman’s adopted son and an old shepherd convince Camille to be their driver as they search for Massat. When they find the search impossible on their own, they wish for a very special policeman. Camille, reluctantly, calls upon her former lover, Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsburg, for help.

One of the first things I look for in a book is the characters. For me, they must be well conveyed, strong, unique and, yes, I must be able to, if not like, at least empathize with them. Vargas creates just such characters and it is they who drive the story. I was delighted that we get to know Camille in this book as she was previously, something of a mystery herself. The residents of the village, Suzanne, and particularly the old shepherd and Solomon, with home Camille ventures forth, are wonderfully created with affection, humor. There is also great poignancy to the relationship, particularly with the inclusion of Adamsburgh into the traveling trio.

And humor there is, but the wry, dry humor of the author’s voice. Vargas has a wonderful voice. I love her imagery and descriptions, particularly in the opening when she anthropomorphizes the wolves. She brings the story, location and people to life.

If there is a weakness, it is in the plot but only because the characters are so strong. However, I found the further I progressed into the story, the more intrigued I was by the mystery. I knew the killer was not a werewolf; the story is not horror or fantasy. I did suspect the villain but appreciated that being given details as to the motive behind the crimes as well as uncovering the killer. There is also a second thread to the story which adds suspense.

There is no question I have become a Vargas fan. I highly recommend giving her a try but start with either her standalone The Three Evangelists, or The Chalk Circle Man, the first book in the Adamsberg series.

Reviews of other titles in this series

Seeking Who He May Devour #3
An Uncertain Place

The Ghost Riders of Ordebec


Reviewed 2011