Random House Australia. This Edition first published
Reviewed by Kerrie Smith, April 2008
What a lot of disparate elements come together in the plot of THIS NIGHT'S
FOUL WORK by Fred Vargas. An ancient recipe for eternal life. One elderly
district nurse who just happens to be a serial killer, recently escaped
from gaol. Two men murdered, their throats cut in what looks like a
drugs-related killing. Stags found dead in Normandy with their hearts cut
out. Someone who polishes the soles of his shoes. Snowball the station
cat, so devoted to a policewoman that he'll travel over thirty kilometres
in search of her.
Someone close to the inquiry into the drug-related killings is
manipulating the investigation.
Commissaire Jean Baptiste Adamsberg has recently returned from enforced
leave and finds himself working with a pathologist whose apple cart he
upset two decades ago. He has moved into a new house haunted by the Wicked
Silent Sister, Saint Clarisse, a serial killer of gullible women, before
To add to the feast for the reader there are some odd, vividly drawn,
characters in Adamsberg's team: Veyrenc, the new lieutenant who spouts
Racine constantly, and is assigned to guarding Camille, the mother of
Adamsberg's baby son Tom; his colleague Commandant Dangland who works
ceaselessly to eliminate Unsolved Questions; Estalere who has a knack and
passion for memorising trivial detail; and Retancourt, devoted to
protecting Adamsberg with her own life, to name just a few.
THIS NIGHT'S FOUL WORK showcases Adamsberg at his best, sifting and
sorting a smorgasbord of information. Adamsberg is equally at home in the
country and in the city. His methods are eccentric but his team recognises
that eventually they will solve the case. There is an eclectic mix of
folklore, history, mystery and just plain human interest. I wouldn't
classify this as a pacey novel. In some ways it lurches from one crisis
point to another. It abounds in red herrings and the way forward can be
hard to see. Tension builds, then climaxes, only to build again as a new
element is included. As in other Vargas novels, at times the plot strains
the bounds of plausibility and some readers may find this a leap too far.
For me this didn't matter.
THIS NIGHT'S FOUL WORK, translated from the French by Sian Reynolds, is #4
in the Adamsberg series. It was first published as Dans les bois
eternels in 2006. The second in the series, 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).
April 2008 review originally published in Murder and Mayhem
All cover art used at Reviewer's Choice Reviews is copyrighted by the
respective publisher. All reviews and articles found at Reviewer's Choice
Reviews are the sole property of the contributor and are copyrighted by