The first book I read by Fred Vargas was ’The Chalk Circle Man’. A different kind of ”inspector solves murder” kind of book. So happy when someone in the book club suggested another title of hers, Have Mercy On Us All. Fred Vargas is a pseudonym for Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau, a French historian, archaeologist and writer. Fred is the diminutive of Frédérique, but Vargas comes from Ava Gardner’s character of a fictional Spanish sex symbol Maria Vargas in the film The Barefoot Contessa.
I think that her profession as a historian and archaeologist, is the base for the fantastic stories she tells. Her novels are not just any murder mystery; there is a complicated, intricate story behind. It is not for every inspector to solve these kind of murders, but inspector Adamsberg is not anyone. I doubt he would ever have a chance to go up the ranks in real life. But here he certainly is allowed to use his unorthodox methods of murder solving. In this book it seems that the plague is back in Paris, killing specific people. Or is it?
If these two books are anything to go by, it is not until the very end that you know who the murder is. And…in both cases I thought it was someone else, rather than the actual culprit. Once caught you don’t really feel very satisfied, because, the murderers themselves have a past of personal and tragic history.
This being a French book, there is a mistress involved, Camille. She comes and goes in Adamsberg’s life and they seem to have a sort of love/hate relationship. It is all very unclear, and according to a friend in the book club who have read many more books than I have, she continues to come and go. Although Adamsberg is more or less middle aged, he is not one of these worn out, divorced, half alcoholic, depressed inspectors that we often see in series these days. I am rather tired of them, so Adamsberg sticks out like a, maybe not a totally agreeable character, still a character that you like. At least I do.
Bring me the next book!