Chief Inspector Adamsberg Mysteries, No
Simon & Schuster
1999 / ISBN 9780743284028
Pol Procedural / France / Contemporary
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
Who He May Devour #3
Uncertain Place #6
Ghost Riders of Ordebec #7