Earlier this year I managed to win the rather wonderful book a month for a year competition run by Vintage. The season ticket has so far thrown up some really interesting reads none more so than The Chalk Circle man by French writer Fred Vargas.
The cover boasts the usual international bestseller tag lines and before the story starts there is the briefest of introductions to a woman who started life as an academic before becoming a best selling writer in France before going international.
Foreign penned thriller, particularly from the Nordics, are all the rage at the moment so on a commercial level you could see this slotting into the current market well. But of course the really important question is around the writing, plot and overall experience.
Everyone needs a detective and Vargas introduces the odd but likeable country man caught in the bustling City of Paris. Although Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg is slow and irritates his more urban colleagues he knows how to read people and discover the source of the hatred that leads to murder.
It is Adamsberg who takes an interest in the chalk circles that are drawn across the streets of Paris at night and to the amusement of his colleagues orders them to be photographed and for the objects that are placed in the centre of the circles to be catalogued.
Sure enough just as he predicts one morning the circle contains a body and a complicated process of following the leads on the chalk circle man begins. As the first in a series you would expect the first third of the book to be setting Adamsberg up and Vargas does that but she also uses it as a chance to introduce the other main character to the reader – Paris.