Monday, June 25, 2012

book review: The Chalk Circle Man by Fred Vargas

What holds most crime books together is the personality of the detective leading the hunt for the killer. Think Morse, Holmes or Maigret and you get the picture.

Here you are introduced to the eccentric and distracted jean-Baptiste Adamsberg who seems to ignore most of the usual conventions of detective work strolling around and in a Colombo type way getting under the skin of those he feels are involved in the crime.

The crime in question here takes time to build with objects found in Paris in the middle of a chalk circle. As the circles become something of a cause celebre it goes from being something strange to something much more sinister once a woman is found in a circle with her throat cut.

From that point on the tension mounts as the police look to crack the case. But at the heart of it causing a fair amount of frustration is the gentle Adamsberg who takes his time before fingering the culprit based on a series of observations and a wonderful insight into human character and motivation.

The real measure of if a thriller with a recurring character has grabbed you is if you would answer in the positive to the opportunity to reading more. In this case I would although crime is a genre that you tend to dip in and out of and sometimes you want the detective in charge to feel some of the tension.

In many ways what makes this more of a rounded book is not just the style, the characters but the distinctive French voices coming through. Translated by Sian Reynolds from the French there are mentions of regional attributes that Adamsberg brings that add to his profile.

Of course Paris itself also plays a role here providing a background of rain washed cobbled streets to the circles and the murder.

A good read and the name Adamsberg may well appear again on this blog.

some oldies

before I manage to finish something new i'm going to try to get round to posting some of the reviews of books i finished a while ago but never got round to sharing thoughts about. I have at least ten of these so hope to get those up over the course of the next couple of weeks to at least provide something 'fresh' to look at.

hello again

apologies for the absence but having another child has rather changed my reading routine. In some ways it's not a lack of sleep but just the change of having another little life in the house. This time around, knowing it's going to be the third and final time, has had more of an emotional impact than I expected. Each moment is precious and even when you are not with the little chap your mind wanders and reading has been difficult to non-existent.

Apologies for that and hopefully things will get back on a more even keel because I have a handful of books people have been kind enough to send that I really must review soon.