The Chalk Circle Man by Fred Vargas
Translated from the French by Sian Reynolds
The First Adamsberg Novel
Finished: Feb. 1, 2009
First Published: 1996 (English Translation 2009)Jan 6. UK/Canada,
Genre: crime, mystery
Reason for Reading: Received a Review Copy from Random House Canada.
Mathilde took out her diary and wrote: " The man sitting next to me has got one hell of a nerve."
Comments: Wow! I think I've really been missing something by not reading European crime novels earlier. This is the first in the series of Commissionaire Adamsberg and the latest to be translated into English. While working on and wrapping up another case Adamsberg becomes interested in the latest talk around Paris of mysterious blue chalk circles appearing all over the city several times a week and inside each circle is a common ordinary item, or sometimes just a little strange. They've found a watch, a doll's head, a pen, a dead cat, a pigeon's foot, an 'I Love Elvis' button and many more items. No one except the press is really concerned about this but Adamsberg feels right away that there is something dead wrong about this. And he is proven correct when the first circle to contain a dead body turns up.
Beautifully written, the characters are exquisitely written. In such a short book all the characters, including the secondary ones, are fully developed and real. They are an eccentric bunch of people right from Adamsberg down to the blind man who loves to ask people if they'd like help crossing the street. The crime itself is wonderfully twisty and was impossible for me to figure out. Really an absolutely amazing crime novel crossed with psychological suspense. The characters remind me of Christie and the psychological aspects remind me of Simenon. Brilliance!
Only one thing that bothers me is that the books are not being translated in order. There are already 4 books translated before this, the first one. Strange...
**Sorry about the gushing, but I just really loved this book.