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This Night's Foul Work Paperback – Jan 6 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
The outstanding fourth whodunit to be made available in the U.S. from Vargas (Wash This Blood Clean from My Hand) makes its easy to see why shes twice won the CWAs International Dagger Award. Paris Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg, an endearing oddball sleuth in the tradition of John Dickson Carrs Henry Merrivale, is convinced that the two narcotics dealers recently found with slit throats werent the victims of business rivals, relying largely on his intuition and the unexplained presence of dirt under the dead mens fingernails. Adamsbergs dogged pursuit of small details leads him to a series of unusual mutilations of wild deer as well as to a serial killer who targets virgins and may be seeking the ingredients to an elixir for eternal life. While the final twist will be less than shocking to some readers, the immensely enjoyable prose, seasoned liberally with humor, should help the author gain the larger American audience she deserves.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
‘Stylish prose and strong characters’
-James Urquhart, Financial Times
‘Humorous and original eccentricity’
- The Herald
‘If you haven’t cottoned on to Vargas’s brilliant Adamsberg detective series, then you’re missing a treat’
-Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday
‘This Night’s Foul Work goes beyond the suspense and plot twists expected of detective fiction as Vargas has created enthralling characters with very real emotions’
‘I absolutely loved the latest offering from Vargas. The story is bizarre but the humour and lightness in the way it's written make it seem convincing in this alternative Adamsberg universe’
‘The narrative pace and the conglomeration of oddities and details make for a high level of entertainment and mystery’
‘In theory, Fred Vargas’s novels ought not to work. The storylines are, almost always, wholly unbelievable. The characters, with few exceptions, are weird, exaggerated and unconvincing. And yet, when she assembles her unique, unreal mixture, what emerges is irresistibly gripping, powerfully written and quite often frightening’
-Marcel Berlins, The Times
Praise for Wash This Blood Clean from My Hand:
“A celebration of the grand French tradition of crime writing. . . . It’s finely crafted, elegantly written and very modernist.” - The Globe and Mail
“Plenty of tense entertainment.” - Toronto Star
“Wash This Blood Clean from My Hand establishes Vargas beyond doubt as a cool, clever, original and deeply humane crime writer.” - The Times Literary Supplement
From the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Insp. Adamsburg has bought a new house which, according to a neighbor, is haunted. When two men are found with their throats cut, causing him to ask a favor from pathologist Ariane Lagarde, with whom he did not have a good working relationship in the past. Upon learning an elderly nurse, whom Adamsburg imprisoned as a serial killer, has escaped he starts to think the cases are connected.
Vargas has such a wonderful voice and way of bringing her characters to life, right from the beginning. Her natural dialogue (thanks, in part, to her excellent translator, Siân Reynolds) and wry humor “…I work in the Serious Crime Squad.” “I see,” said the old man after registering a slight shock. “My specialty was the bench.” He winked. “Not the Judge’s Bench, wooden benches. I used to sell them.”…enhance the delight of the reader.
Vargas’ characters are special and unique. Adamsburg, with his individual style of investigation, Young Lt. Veyrenc has a tendency to speak in 12-sylable lines and has a childhood enmity for Adamsburg; Commandant Danglad, Adamsburg’s right hand, who can’t stand unsolved questions; Lt. Retancourt, much valued by Adamsburg, can sleep anywhere and whose kidnapping leads to one of the most interesting hunts ever written; and all the other characters, no matter how minor. She even incorporated Mathias and a mention of Marc and Vandossler, characters from her wonderful book “The Three Evangelists”, into the story.
There are such wonderful descriptions that enhance the story and bring it, the locations and the characters to life. She delightfully anthropomorphizes the first day of Spring “…She’s touchy.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
However, the Commissaire holds on to the investigation, amassing clues and insights to move it in directions other than the assumption of drug involvement. Meanwhile, he also has to fight a new recruit who holds a boyhood grudge against his new boss, as well as supernatural sightings of ghosts both in his new home and in a Normandy cemetery. Are these all related? Is he following real clues, or being led down the proverbial primrose path?
Written in droll prose, the novel is excellently translated by Sian Reynolds who captures the language and offbeat comments with accuracy. The plot certainly is offbeat and inclusion of Racine-like poetry is an excellent touch. The crimes described are among the more unusual in this type of mystery and the reader has to keep turning pages to keep up with events and the eccentric characters. Recommended.
Adamsberg is at an interesting point in life. He's just moved into a house that's haunted by a long-dead bloodthirsty nun. His beloved Camille, who has rejected him, is treating him as a mere friend and convenient babysitter for their son. And the new recruit in his office from his native village is nursing a possibly murderous grudge against him.
Meanwhile Adamsberg is encountering crimes that are not what they seem. In Paris, two young men with dubious occupations are found with their throats slit. In Normandy, the grave of a thirty-something virgin is desecrated, and a stag is killed in an unsportsmanlike fashion, with its heart cut out.
As events unfold, Adamsberg is obsessed with minutia and absurdly hypothetical by turns. His wild and wooly mental processes find a match in the elaborate planning and staging of crimes by the killer, whose bizarre purpose is beyond even Adamsberg's imagination.
The eccentric members of Adamsberg's Murder Squad add to the fun. Danglard, the walking encyclopedia, is hitting the bottle harder than ever. Retancourt, the tank-like woman officer who saved Adamsberg's life in a previous book, continues to "channel her energy" in mysterious ways. Kernorkian is afraid of dogs, germs and the dark. The narcoleptic Mercadet, when awake, demonstrates a real genius for figures. And the new recruit versifies compulsively in twelve-syllable Alexandrines.
As always Vargas keeps the reader spellbound throughout an incredibly convoluted plot by the sheer power of her dazzling prose style. In her photo on the back of this book, Vargas looks young enough to produce a lot more Commissaire Adamsberg mysteries. I sincerely hope she does, and soon.