Wednesday, August 29, 2012

An Uncertain Place

An Uncertain Place
By Fred Vargas

I believe this is the latest Adamsberg book (or at least the most recent translation).  The Chalk Circle Man surprised and enthralled me; An Uncertain Place was a staggeringly good book.  But I fear I can say almost nothing about the book that would not unravel the carefully conceived and mysterious plot.  Let me say merely that I was looking for a mystery/thriller that would give me an atmospheric and authentic take on contemporary Paris.  This book did not really do this; we spent more time in suburban locales, in Highgate Cemetery, and in Eastern European climes (and in Adamsberg’s garden with a kitten named Charm).  Nevertheless, this matters not a jot, as the clever, hilarious, taut narrative wove its spell.  Vargas’ characters are so utterly real, you do not want the books to end as you want to keep following the inner thoughts of people like Adamsberg (even if you wouldn’t want to know them in real life).  Plog!

For the brave . . .
The delightful and utterly mad “secret”—that vampirism was at the heart of the killings—rocked my world.  Yet I couldn’t help a nagging suspicion that if Highgate really was haunted by an “entity” who was a Melmoth the Wanderer-type vampire, I would have heard about it by now.  Disappointingly (or perhaps not!) Vargas seems to have taken a few deluded attention seekers’ reports from the 1970s and made them into the fabric of truth, to the point that Danglard and Radstock can create a convincing mythos from them.  Okay, and do you know what I did when Charm the kitten was revealed not to be killed by the murderer?  I squee’d with delight, that’s what! 

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