Friday, February 3, 2012

Vargas, Fred: The Chalk Circle Man

This is the first Adamsberg novel but not the first to be published here. Blue chalk circles have been appearing in various parts of central Paris, each with an apparently irrelevant object in them - a stone, a cigarette packet, a dead bird, etc. This intrigues Adamsberg who is convinced that there will soon be a body in the circle. The early chapters flesh out his rather odd way of looking at things and also introduces the Parisian police in his squad who quickly adapt to his unorthodox methods. As in the later books, there is a collection of eccentrics - a celebrated lady deep-sea diver who prefers fish to people but spends her time on land striking up conversations with strangers, one of whom is a blind man whose sense of small provides Adamsberg with a clue, and an elderly rather unattractive housekeeper who is continually replying to lonely heart ads. The oceanographer has seen the chalk circle drawer and provides a description which eventually leads to his exposure but he seems only to have drawn the circles and claims someone else is corruptly using them. Further complications arise both with the case and with Adamsberg's personal life before the final chapter closes. I might not have read more of Fred Vargas' novels had I read this one first. As it is, the first I read hardly involved Adamsberg until the final chapters and the other I have read indicate, I consider, that Vargas took a while to get into her stride so I am glad I have read this one now and not earlier

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