Friday, June 19, 2009

The Chalk Circle Man

By Fred Vargas.

I have enjoyed Fred Vargas' novels for quite some time, so was delighted to find her first Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg Novel was finally out in New Zealand. Vargas is a French novelist, and I have no idea why her other novels had been translated into English and available before this one, but that is the strange world of translation and foreign rights.

Anyway, I digress. The Chalk Circle Man as the title suggests starts with the appearance of mysterious blue chalk circles drawn on the streets of Paris and the odd objects that lie in the center of them, which everyone pretty much ignores until the object in the center of one turns out to be a very dead person. Adamsberg had a bad feeling about the circles before the body showed up, but then Adamsberg is a perculiar sort of policeman in that he accepts his gut feelings and hunches and runs with them, or I should say, dawdles with them.

This is one of the things I really enjoy about these novels, they are crime fiction, but they lack the frenetic pace of a lot of the genre and that is perfectly okay. I enjoy that we get to amble around inside Adamsberg's head, and that of his intellectual colleague Danglard, in fact I love that there is so much interior monologue and musing. The end result for me is fascinating, and entertaining and makes for a damn good read. There in lies Vargas' skill. It is quite an art to make a rambling kind of a novel a satisfying crime fiction read, but she achieves this with great success.

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