Publisher Random House, 2009
Australian release date 2 Feb 2009
Translated from the French by Sian Reynolds
Reviewed by Kerrie Smith
Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg has just been appointed Commissaire of the police
headquarters in the 5th Arrondissement of Paris. His reputation as a
solver of crimes has preceded him, but eleven days after his arrival, his
new team does not quite know what to make of him. For Adamsberg does not
solve crimes by logic. He is also an outsider from the Pyrenees.
Adamsberg is the first to admit that he is not a thinker, that he works
mainly by instinct and hunches. He tells Adrien Danglard, his second in
command and a person who believes in logic, that he himself is a slow
inarticulate man who can sense guilt in a suspect. Most of all Adamsberg
believes people commit murder because underneath they enjoy inflicting
pain: cruelty oozes from them.
The strange overnight appearance of blue chalk circles on the pavements of
Paris is regarded by most, including the newspapers, as a harmless prank.
The circles generally contain some strange object, but it is difficult to
see any connections. However Adamsberg asks Danglard to see that
photographic records are made of each, predicting that the thing in the
middle of the circles will get bigger, and saying that the circles ooze
cruelty. Eventually he is right and the body of a young woman, her throat
cut, is discovered inside one of the circles. Adamsberg believes there
will be more, but he is not sure whether there are two people or just one
responsible for both the chalk circles and the murder.
Here at last is the first of Vargas' Adamsberg series, for they have been
translated into English out of order. THE CHALK CIRCLE provides the
beginning of some of the threads that run through subsequent novels:
Adamsberg's unusual methods of solving crimes, his love for Camille, and
his relationship with Danglard.
SEEKING WHOM HE MAY DEVOUR was a finalist for a Dagger Award in 2005.
Vargas went on to win the Duncan Lawrie International Dagger twice with
THE THREE EVANGELISTS (2006) and WASH THIS BLOOD CLEAN FROM MY HAND
(2007). In 2008 THE NIGHT'S FOUL WORK was shortlisted for the
My other Vargas reviews:
WASH THIS BLOOD CLEAN FROM MY HAND
THIS NIGHT'S FOUL WORK
SEEKING WHOM HE MAY DEVOUR
List of titles per favour Euro Crime- the second date is that of an
1 The Chalk Circle Man ( L'Homme aux Cercles Bleus 1996) 2009
2 Seeking Whom He May Devour (L'homme a L'envers 1999) 2004
3 Have Mercy on Us All (Paris Vite et Reviens Tard 2001) 2003
5 Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand (Sous les Vents de Neptune 2004) 2007
6 This Night's Foul Work ( Dans les Bois Éternels 2006) 2008
Feb 2009 review crossposted on Murder & Mayhem
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