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Noli domo egredi, nisi librum habes – Never leave home without a book.

Tag: Crime (page 1 of 16)

Discovering Margery Allingham

Look to the Lady by Margery Allingham

look to the lady (667x1024)You may recall that last November I went down to London for an afternoon hosted by literary agents PFD to celebrate the authors Margery Allingham and Eric Ambler (see here).  Barry Pike, the chairman of the Margery Allingham Society recommended Look to the Lady as the best place to start with her Albert Campion novels. Campion originally appeared as a comedic supporting character in The Crime at Black Dudley, (1929) and was so loved, Allingham’s US publishers asked for him to get his own novel(s).  So Campion got to star in Mystery Mile (1930) and Look to the Lady was his third outing in 1931.

It begins with a chap in London being given a shilling by a policeman so he won’t have to arrest him for vagrancy. Persival St John Wykes Garth, known as Val, thanks the policeman and is directed to a safe place where he finds a letter with his name on, and eventually ends up at the residence of Albert Campion, evading being kidnapped in a taxi along the way, and the door opens to show:

A tall thin young man with a pale inoffensive face, and vague eyes behind enormous horn-rimmed spectacles smiled out at him with engaging friendliness. He was carefully, not to say fastidiously, dressed in evening clothes, but the correctness of his appearance was somewhat marred by the fact that in his hand he held a string to which was attached a child’s balloon of a particularly vituperant pink. (p24)

It turns out that Campion’s interest in Val has been piqued by recent news items involving the Gyrth Chalice – a priceless cup that his family has guarded secretly for generations upon generations. Val will shortly be initiated into the secrets of the chalice on his 25th birthday – if he makes up with his father. Gyrth’s rather bohemian aunt has allowed herself to be photographed in the press with a chalice, and Campion thinks that professional criminals will seek to steal it for a secret client. Val challenges Campion as to his interest in the affair:

Mr Campion hesitated. ‘It’s rather difficult to explain,’ he said. ‘I am – or rather I was – a sort of universal uncle, a policeman’s friend and master-crook’s factotum. What it really boiled down to, I suppose, is that I used to undertake other people’s adventures for them at a small fee. If necessary I can give you references from Scotland Yard, unofficial, of course, or from almost any other authority you might care to mention. But last year my previous uncle, His Grace the Bishop of Devizes, the only one of the family who’s ever apprecicated me, by the way, died and left me the savings of an episcopal lifetime. Having become a capitalist, I couldn’t very well go on with my fourpence-an-hour business, so I’ve been forced to look for suitable causes to which I could donate a small portion of my brains and beauty. That’s one reason.’ (p36)

Val and Campion escape London to Suffolk and the ancestral Gyrth estate by the village of Sanctuary and Val is reunited with his father. There we meet Val’s sister younger sister Penny, who takes a shine to Campion. Penny, with her friend Beth will prove to be useful plucky sorts.

Things get complicated soon when Lady Pethwick, Val’s aunt, is found dead. So Campion has two cases – preventing the chalice from being stolen and solving a murder. There is one other main character I haven’t mentioned yet and that is Magersfontain Lugg.

The girl looked at him incredulously. ‘What is that man Lugg?’ she said.
Her companion adjusted his spectacles. ‘It depends how you mean,’ he said. ‘A specied, definitely human, I should say, oh yes, without a doubt. Status – none. Past – filthy. Occupation – my valet.’
Penny laughed. ‘I wondered if he were your keeper,’ she suggested. (p91)

Lugg is good value for money, and I did wonder if he was the inspiration for Jock, the manservant-thug in the Charlie Mortdecai books.

I’m not going to delve any further into the plot, for it does get very complicated, involving all manner of shenanigans. Some fear that supernatural forces are also at work, which adds another layer of intrigue until explained – or not. Campion is able to move things along by his being incredibly well-connected in circles both high and low, legitimate and shady; it also turns out he is a friend of the Gypsies and they will come to his aid when summoned later.

What a fun and complex character Campion is!  Of noble birth, a friendly and inoffensive sort, yet obviously brainy under his wacky exterior and able to get things done; an assertive enabler with funds who lives life to the full – he reminded me a little of Buchan’s hero, Richard Hannay, but in comedy form.  He is a bit of an enigma, but a nice one – and I shall enjoy getting to know him (and Lugg) better.

Allingham’s writing is playful and full of detail – I adored the colour ‘vituperant pink’ in my first quote above – not just any old pink – a pink that inflicts blame, censure.  She is also renowned for including elements of what would later be called psychogeography, particuarly of East Anglia where she lived, in her text.

The village of Sanctuary lay in that part of Suffolk which the railway has ignored and the motorists have not yet discovered.

Simply lovely.

Barry was right. I enjoyed Look to the Lady very much indeed. Here’s looking forward to my next dose of Allingham. (9/10)

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Source: Publisher via PFD – Thank you

Margery Allingham – Look to the Lady (1931). Vintage Books reprint. Paperback, 250 pages.

The funniest crime novel I’ve read since I discovered Christopher Brookmyre…

Hack by Kieran Crowley

hackIf you love Christopher Brookmyre’s Jack Parlabane novels, you’re going to love this one too. Brookmyre’s Quite Ugly One Morning, which I read pre-blog,hooked me from the off – literally from it’s expletive first words! Hack begins in a dead-pan manner, but it is so tongue in cheek I was giggling by the end of the first paragraph.  As in Brookmyre’s debut, Hack features a journalist who gets sucked into a murder investigation.

F.X. Shepherd is no investigative journo though, it’s his third day at the New York Mail where he is the new pet reporter – writing a column called ‘Dog’s Breakfast’. It just so happens that the paper’s top crime reporter is on hols, and is also called Frank Shepherd (no X).  However, it’s the new Australian City Desk editor’s first day on the job, so the wrong Frank gets the call to cover a murder:

“What’s the story? What kind of animal is involved?”
“Damn. You’re bloody good. How did you know that?”
“Know what?”
“The pooch. Photo just heard over the cop radio a sec ago that some dog is guarding the body. Cops may have to shoot it. Top of the list right now, mate,” Bantock continued without a breath. “You know, ‘loyal pooch protecting slain master?’ Blah blah. Got a runner from the shack on the way with Photo but I need you on this right away. I want an exclusive break on this from you or I’ll know why not,” he concluded in a friendly, theatening tone.

He arrives at the scene on the Upper East Side and, identifying himself as an animal expert, “I’m Shepherd. I’m here about the dog.”, he is ushered up to the apartment by police eager to get the dog dealt with. There, he finds the naked body of a celebrity food critic’s husband with his throat slashed, a big chunk cut out of his bottom, and the corpse is garnished in parsley, garlic and Parmesan cheese. A husky dog, called Skippy, guards the body, and Frank is able to calm him down and take him away from the scene, instantly gaining Inspector Izzy Negron’s respect.

Aubrey Forsythe, the food critic, is known for his hatchet jobs, having put many restaurants out of business. When it turns out that his last meal was sauteed butt cheek steak (he vomits it up when he sees the scene), he is immediately arrested – but Frank who is still there and sees it all, isn’t convinced, thinking that however hated Aubrey is, he didn’t commit the murder.  Frank gets the scoop, ahead of rival reporter Ginny McElhone from the Daily Press whose job is on the line after that – and she will do anything to recover the kudos. They meet in court at Aubrey’s arraignment at which celebrity lawyer, Roland Arbusto acts for him.

The clerk read out the charge of First Degree Murder and Unlawfully Dealing with Human Remains.
“How do you plead?”
“Totally, completely, without a shadow of a doubt not guilty,” Arbusto bellowed.

I guffawed. Simon Cowell has a lot to answer for!

The jokes come thick and fast. Aubrey is let out of jail to attend his husband’s funeral at the cathedral.

Aubrey cried what seemed to be genuine tears, and the TV crews went live. The priest proceeded with the solemn service, during which they drank blood and ate flesh, at least symbolically. Food for thought.

Skippy the dog had been put into a vet’s holding centre, and Frank persuades the police that it would be better for the dog to go home with him. This is where he meets vet Jane, and they hit it off right away, but their fledgling relationship is immediately put under stress when things always happen to Frank when they’re out for dinner.

Underneath all the comedy is a cracking contemporary noir novel, grisly and violent with a brilliantly twisting plot that keeps you guessing all the way through. It’s also a sparkling satire on tabloid journalism of the Australian-owned kind. Frank has to wear out a lot of shoe-leather as he gets more and more involved due to his owner’s demands, and his own new-found desire to solve the crime. Izzy, the cop, was sympathetically portrayed, a good officer who accepts Frank’s different eye-view of the case as vital to its resolution. Frank soon stops being a fish out of water, and begins to relish his new-found confidence as an investigative reporter, and who couldn’t love Skippy!

Crowley writes from experience, no research needed; as a crime reporter and investigative journalist for the New York Post he covered hundreds of trials and murders, in some of which he uncovered missed evidence. He covered the second Zodiac Killer ‘Son of Sam’ cases – serial killers are his speciality and he has written several true crime books on them.

I enjoyed this book so much, it’s going straight into my end of the year Best of… If you like crime with a sense of humour, you’ll enjoy Hack, and the good news is there will be a second Shepherd book – Shoot – but we’ll have to wait until next autumn! (10/10)

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Source: Publisher – Thank you.

Hack by Kieran Crowley (Titan Books, October 2015) paperback original, 320 pages.

Maigret #6

Night at the Crossroads by Georges Simenon

Translated by Linda Coverdale

maigret 6This case for Inspector Maigret opens after seventeen hours of interrogation of a suspect in a murder case. Maigret is completely knackered yet the one-eyed Carl Andersen, a Dane, is as cool as a cucumber, denying all knowledge or involvement in the switching of cars between the two households at the Three Widows Crossroads and the very dead body of Isaac Goldberg, a diamond merchant from Antwerp being found in his neighbour’s car in Andersen’s garage. They have to let him go. It’s the next morning before Maigret leaves…

Maigret went home to his apartment in Boulevard Richard-Lenoir.
‘You look tired!’ was all his wife said in welcome.
‘Pack a bag with a suit and a spare pair of shoes.’
‘Will you be away long?’
There was a ragout in the oven. The bedroom window was open and the bed unmade, to air out the sheets. Madame Maigret hadn’t had time yet to comb out her hair, still set in lumpy little pin curls.
He kissed her. As he left, she remarked, ‘You’re opening the door with your right hand…’
That was unlike him; he always opened it with his left hand. And Madame Maigret wasn’t shy about being superstitious.
‘What is it? A gang?’
‘I’ve no idea.’
‘Are you going far?’
‘I don’t know yet.’
‘You’ll be careful, won’t you?’
But he was already going downstairs and hardly turned around at all to wave to her. Out on the boulevard, he hailed a taxi.
‘Gare d’Orsay… Wait … How much to drive to Arpajon? … Three hundred francs, with the return trip? … Let’s go!’

Reading the books in the latest edition order, this is the second appearance of Madame Maigret and she knows what’s what alright!

Maigret arrives at the lonely crossroads and gets to know the denizens of the three dwellings there: Andersen and his ‘sister’ Else who is rather strange – sort of wanton and repressed at the same time (she reminded me of Marin in The Miniaturist); the annoying M. Michonnet the insurance agent and his awful wife; and M. Oscar who runs the busy garage and is always trying to tempt Maigret in for a drink. For a crossroads in the middle of nowhere, it turns out to be a remarkably busy intersection – and Maigret and Inspector Lucas have their work cut out to solve the mystery…

La Nuit du carrefour was originally the seventh Maigret novel, published in April 1931, so we’re still in Simenon’s first year of writing Maigret. Again, it was quite cosmopolitan, having Danes, Belgians and an Italian in its cast of characters alongside all the French. None of them are quite as innocent as they’d have you believe which made it all the more fun, and Maigret is forced to become a man of action in the end. I enjoyed this one in its fine new translation a lot and can imagine it working well on the screen – with the garage and the cars playing a large part, it has more of a gangster feel than any of the previous Maigret stories.

Click here to explore my other Maigret reviews.

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Source: Own copy. 

The one who survived…

Black Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

Black eyed susans The ARC I was sent of this stylish psychological thriller came bound in black ribbon with a silk flower of the title.

I was expecting the book, but wasn’t expecting a daisy – it turns out that what is known as Black eyed Susan in the US is Rudbeckia hirta – of the aster family. It is the state flower of Maryland and grows all over North America.  If you look up Black eyed Susan in UK catalogues however, you’re more likely to find a totally unrelated herbaceous perennial, Thunbergia alata, which emanates from Eastern Africa originally.

black-eyed-susan-vine-thunbergia-alata1Thunbergia is a scrambling vine with heart-shaped leaves which I used to grow up a trellis as an annual (it’s rather tender to frost). The simple five-petaled flowers can vary from creamy white to deep orange. I wasn’t going to let myself be sidetracked by these botanical considerations though, so I mentally rebooted and started reading.

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When she was 16, Tessa became famous for being the one who survived.  A group of girls were abducted and their bodies dumped in a patch of Black-Eyed Susans, except Tessie, as she was known then, wasn’t quite dead.

This happened twenty years ago, and Tessa has moved on and got a life as an artist and single mum to Charlie, her teenaged daughter.  Life is good when she can stop thinking about the past, but it is all opened up again when a patch of the yellow daisies appears under her window. They must have been planted there, but by whom? Is the man on Death Row for the murders not the killer? Scared again for her own life and that of her daughter, Tessa agrees to work with the lawyers who believe that the man who is locked up and due for execution is innocent.  Cans of worms are opened, almost literally, for the other victims’ bodies are exhumed. Forensic science has progressed far in the intervening years and experts in mitochondrial DNA are brought in to find new evidence.

Tessa’s present day story alternates with that of Tessie, now 17, in the past. Having survived such a terrible ordeal, Tessie is traumatised and is under the treatment of a therapist as she is prepared for the trial of Terrell Goodman, the man they have put in prison. He is convicted on her evidence, despite the huge gaps in her memory.  Her best friend Lydia is a huge support to her through all the build up to the trial.  The conviction doesn’t make it right though and after the trial, Tessie becomes mute for a long time.

It is clear that she buried things back then and more since, unable to comprehend how they fitted into the picture. Throughout the novel, this information will be teased out in both past and present, with evidence leading one way then another until a startling conclusion is reached. I loved the way that the dual time-frame added to the complexity of what you think was happening at any time, vs what she said had happened then, what she remembered happening then now and what really happened, then and now. This deliberate confusion did diffuse the tension at times but certainly keeps the intrigue going.

Heaberlin has done her research well and blended it into the novel without the details intruding too much – the DNA forensics was fascinating and well presented for example. The other area of her research was into Death Row and the work of attorneys like David Dow (see his Ted talk here) and Brit Clive Stafford Smith (I will never forget his TV documentary from 1987, Fourteen Days in May).  Heaberlin’s young lawyer Bill who took charge of the case when the veteran defense lawyer passed away has his job cut out, but proves a sympathetic character and a good balance to Tessa.

I would have reviewed this novel for Shiny New Books, but it’s one of those books that is best recommended without going into much detail. I didn’t want to write a lengthy review, but believe me, I really enjoyed it. (8.5/10)

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Source: Publisher – Thank you. To explore further on Amazon UK, please click below:
Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin. Penguin: Michael Joseph. August 2015, hardback, 368 pages.

Trapped in Genteel Poverty…

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Paying guestWhen we chose the second title for the Shiny Book Club, we wanted something totally different to the first (The Bees, which I reviewed here). It had to fit our criteria of being a Shiny New Book available in paperback in the UK. The obvious choice was Sarah Waters’ most recent novel, which came out in paperback in early summer.  (Note: It’ll be out in September in the US, so you can join in the Shiny Book Club discussion which will run until the next issue in October).  I’d bought the hardback last year, and very much enjoyed reading it, although holding it open (I don’t care to crack spines), made my wrist ache in bed!

A very quick synopsis of the basic plot. It’s 1922 and Frances Wray lives in genteel poverty with her mother in Champion Hill, the posh bit of Camberwell, South London. Her two brothers were killed in WWI. After that her father died, leaving them short of cash, they had to let their servants go, and Frances has taken on all aspects of running the house, being careful to keep up appearances for her mother’s sake. However, austerity is not enough, and reluctantly they decide to take in lodgers. Enter a young couple, Leonard and Lilian Barber, who will take the upstairs rooms (excepting Frances’ bedroom). They will have to share the outside lav though.  After their visit to view, Frances is discussing them with her mother:

‘One good thing, I suppose, about their being so young: they’ve only his parents to compare us with. They won’t know that we really haven’t a clue what we’re doing. So long as we act the part of landladies with enough gusto, then landladies is what we will be.’
Her mother looked pained. ‘How baldly you put it! you might be Mrs Seaview, of Worthing.’
‘Well, there’s no shame in being a landlady; not these days. I for one aim to enjoy landladying.’
‘If you would only stop saying the word.’

And so it is that upper middle class Frances and her mother, become landladies to a working class couple on their way up. Quite a reversal.

Frances initially finds it difficult having a man in the house again, with his ‘jaunty whistling’ and ‘loud masculine sneezes’.  Len also has a habit of going out into the yard for a fag late in the evening, and stopping to talk to Frances on his way back through the kitchen.  He asks her about the garden and volunteers to help, telling her about his guvnor’s garden:

‘He even has cucumbers in a frame. Beauties, they are – this long!’ He held his hands apart, to show her. ‘Ever thought of cucumbers, Miss Wray?’
‘Growing them, I mean?’
Was there some sort of innuendo there? She could hardly believe that there was. But his gaze was lively, as it had been the night before, and , just as something about his manner then had discomposed her, so, now, she had the feeling that he was poking fun at her, perhaps attempting to make her blush.

Everyone settles down; Lilian puts her personal touch on their rooms with shawls and ornaments; Len goes out to work. Lilian gives Frances the rent money, and Mrs Wray gets hopeful about it:

‘I did just wonder, Frances, whether we mightn’t be able to afford a servant again.’

It is clear that there are tensions in Lil and Len’s relationship. This is obvious to Frances, who had begun to strike up a friendship with her lodger.  Then, one day, Frances lets out her big secret – she’d had a relationship with another woman, Chrissy, and was found out as the two of them had planned to set up home together. Far from scaring off Lilian, it switches something on in her and the pair become intimate, starting a secret affair.  Things soon come to a head though. It’s deeply stressful for all concerned in every which way. What happens next?  There are shocks and twists aplenty, but I’m not going to get more spoilery here. If you have read the book though, the discussion at Shiny Book Club does go into detail.

I thought that Waters nailed the situation of Frances and her mother in their enforced austerity perfectly. Mrs Wray was obviously perpetually mortified by it, and hated the idea that anyone might spot Frances cleaning the front doorstep or the like. Frances is hemmed in by it all, but throws herself into the chores to escape from her mother, except on those days she has trips into London to see her old flame Christina which is her only real relief from drudgery and the spinster life she has had to settle for.

Lilian at first appears flighty with Frances the dominant one, but as the novel progresses there is rather a role reversal. Frances falls so hard for Lilian it unnerves her, whereas Lilian gets strength from her large supportive family (who never find out all the secrets). Frances has been hardened by what happened before and regrets losing Christina, she thinks she’ll never find another lover and can’t believe it when Lilian reciprocates.  Their secret relationship is so intense and claustrophobic. At the beginning of the novel I really felt for Frances; I know she couldn’t help it, but the pressure she put on Lilian made me feel less for her and more for her partner in crime.

Topping just  over 560 pages in hardback, I did find this novel hard to put down, reading it in three long sessions. Once you get towards the closing stages, there is no way you’ll want to stop reading if you don’t have to, it’s so intense and gripping.  It feels very real in its post-WWI world (as The Night Watch did with WWII). It’s the 1920s, but there’s not a flapper in sight, this is suburban South London (and believe me it doesn’t change much!)

The Night Watch
remains my favourite Waters novel, but I preferred The Paying Guests to the slower-burning The Little Stranger (review here). The Paying Guests pulls you into its world right from the start. It is a complex morality tale that I enjoyed reading very much.

See also Harriet’s review and Simon’s at Vulpes Libris.

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Source: Own copy. To explore further on Amazon UK, please click below (affiliate link):
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. Virago, paperback, 608 pages.

Meeting Commissaire Adamsberg

Seeking Whom He May Devour by Fred Vargas

Translated by David Bellos

Adamsberg 2Although not my first read of French author Fred Vargas (that was The Three Evangelists – reviewed here), this was my first encounter with her detective Commissaire Adamsberg. SWHMD is the second novel featuring him. I prefer to read a series in order, but don’t have the first, The Chalk Circle Man, and in this case I don’t think it really mattered in introducing me to Adamsberg who, until well over halfway into this novel is peripheral to the action!

I was intrigued by the English title of the novel, which I found comes from the bible:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.

1 Peter 5.8

What is stranger is that it contrasts so much from the original French title: L’Homme à l’envers – The inside-out man – which is not such a good title in English.

The novel is set in SE France, amongst the villages nestling near the alpine foothills surrounded by sheep farms and where life conforms to a rural idyll.  Le Parc National du Mercantor is a forested region bordering Italy, and wildlife experts are closely monitoring the wolves who have crossed the Alps from Italy. One of the experts, a taciturn Canadian called Lawrence Johnstone, is obsessed by the wolves,  he even looks after one that is too old to hunt by leaving him rabbits.  Johnstone lives with Camille, an enigmatic musician, who when not composing soundtracks for TV programmes, does plumbing.

One night, some sheep are killed. The toothmarks seem to indicate a giant wolf. Johnstone believes that it may be a large wolf who has not been seen for a while, whom he names Crassus the Bald.  More sheep are killed and their owner Suzanne thinks it is a werewolf:

Camille tried to make out Johnstone’s face in the dark, to see whether he was having her on, or what. But the Canadian’s expression remained stony and serious.
“Are you talking about the kind of guy who turns into a monster at night with claws that grow and hair that sprouts all over and canines that stick out over his lower lip? The sort of guy who goes around eating people lost at night in the woods and then stuffs his hairy chest inside his suit jacket in the morning before going into the office?”
“You got it,” said Johnstone, seriously. “A werewolf.”

…which explains the French title.  But Suzanne is brutally murdered in similar fashion the next day.  When a local man, Massart, a misfit who lived alone goes missing, and a map is found in his hut with crosses where the sheep were killed and a route going through the region marked on it, Suzanne’s friends decide it must be him and form a posse to catch him. Johnstone heads back into the park to track the wolves.

Soliman is Suzanne’s adopted son. Presumed to be African, he was abandoned as a baby, and being the only black person around stands out amongst the locals. Watchee is Suzanne’s ancient shepherd. Neither of them can drive, so they persuade Camille, who it turns out has an HGV licence, to ferry them in a converted sheep truck.  They set off on the chase through the perilous mountain roads, living in the back of the lanolin-steeped old lorry. They’re always one step behind though, there are more sheep killings and two more men are murdered. This always playing catch-up gives the trio time to talk, bicker and bond. They are a likeable band, but you do wonder what they would actually do if they caught up with Massart.

What of Commissaire Adamsberg?  He has been following the sheep murders on the news back in Paris where he has his own problem, living in hiding as a woman stalker has vowed to kill him for putting a bullet in the gut of their gang leader:

Adamsberg could see her now, standing on the other side of the street. […] when she came out in the open, like today, Adamsberg did not know whether she had a weapon on her or not. She often kept visible watch on him like that – to try his nerves he reckoned. Adamsberg’s easygoing nature kept him at a steady rhythm, which was always slow, almost detached. It was not easy, therefore, to know whether he was taking a genuine interest in something or whether he didn’t give a damn. More out of indolence rather than courage, Commissaire Adamsberg did not know what it was to be scared.
His imperturbable low key had an almost magical calming effect on other people, and brought about genuine miracles in the interrogation of suspects. People like Inspector Danglard, who felt all of life’s big and little bumps in his bones, like a cyclists for ever riding a new leather saddle, despaired of getting Adamsberg to react to anything. Just to react? That wasn’t asking for the moon, was it, now?

The trio need help, and Camille knows a flic who can – Adamsberg; they used to be lovers.  She makes the call. Adamsberg is happy to be drawn into the investigation, and to see Camille again. With him on the team, the quartet should surely be able to find the killer, whatever or whoever they are…

Like the other Vargas book I read, SWHMD was an unconventional crime novel, but always fascinating. It has brutal crimes within its pages, yet managed to have an engaging, wry sense of humour that drew me in, due to the strength of her characters.  Camille is such a strong woman, I have to hope that she might crop up again, but Adamsberg himself is enigmatic and, in his considered manner, reminded me a lot of Maigret!  It is a brave author that doesn’t bring her detective into the fray until page 162 out of 263, although he does follow the crimes from the start of the book.  I also liked the way that the superstitious villagers could believe in the old werewolf legends, building up the tension. More Vargas novels are definitely on the cards after reading this one. (9/10)

witmonth15Don’t forget that August is Women in Translation Month – hosted by Meytal at Biblibio.

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Source: Own copy. To explore further on Amazon, please click below (affiliate link):
Seeking Whom He May Devour (Commissaire Adamsberg) by Fred Vargas (1999), trans David Bellos (2004). Vintage paperback.

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