Sunday, June 14, 2009


The problem with reading series in the wrong order is that most of the information and backstory about the main characters has been covered in the following books.

Therefore some of the best moments in the novel as relationships are formed don't have the same impact and sense of discovery that they should have.

"I have to tell you, he added, with his back half-turned to Adamsberg, "that after four in the afternoon I'm not good for much-best you should know that."

And later in the story:

But Arlette [his daughter] knew he had worries at present, what with his almost empty bank account, the impossible investigation he was engaged in, and the unsettling character of his new boss.

The story is a little slow after a good start as the author establishes the eccentricity of Adamsberg and the unorthodox way he deals with Danglard and the various suspects, who include a beautiful blind man Charles Reyer, and an oceanographer who follows people, Mathilde Forestier.

Can either of them be the person who draws blue chalk circles in the streets?
Is the chalk circle drawer also a serial killer, or has someone else taken advantage of the circles to confuse the police by putting bodies inside the circle?

I am confused and intrigued by the story which has about seventy pages to go, but that is probably why Fred Vargas has won two International Daggers.


Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Interesting you should title this post the way you did. I was less bothered than you appeared to be by relationships and discoveries that lacked the impact they should have had. Perhaps that's because Vargas did such a brilliant job in expressing the contrast between Adamsberg and Danglard in Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand, a two-character set piece that is one of my favorite pieces of crime writing.

That book, which came later in the series, seemed nonetheless to delight in introducing this contrast as if for the first time. Vargas always keeps it new.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

1:50 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Peter I read Wash this blood clean from my hand back in 2006 and with my memory it was difficult to put it in context. I do remember that it was not necessary to have read earlier books to enjoy WTBCFMH and that it was in my opinion a better book, simply because Vargas had introduced more police characters such as Violette Retancourt into the story. Vargas also expanded her horizons and sent them off at one stage on a trip to Quebec.

2:47 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Here are the Commissaire Adamsberg books in the correct order I think with French and English publication dates.

1996 - L'Homme aux cercles bleus; English translation: The Chalk Circle Man, 2009

1999 - L'Homme à l'envers; English translation: Seeking Whom He May Devour, 2004, (Prix Mystère de la critique)

2001 - Pars vite et reviens tard; English translation: Have Mercy on Us All, 2003, (Prix des libraires)

2004 - Sous les vents de Neptune; English translation: Wash This Blood Clean from My Hand, 2007

2006 - Dans les bois éternels; English translation: This Night's Foul Work, 2008

2008 - Un lieu incertain; English translation: A Dubious Place

3:05 AM  
Blogger Kerrie said...

I like the contrast between Adamsberg (the intuitive) and Danglard (the methodical) - I think you see the same in Dalziel & Pascoe, but do you see the same in Wexford and Burden? What about Morse and Lewis?

It is part of what I was trying to get to in my post Sleuths & Foils

5:42 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home