Thursday, June 05, 2014
Dog will Have His Day by Fred Vargas
Louis Kehlweiler has been a powerful investigator with the Ministry of the Interior. Since he was sacked by newcomers who didn't respect his powers he has still kept up his investigations with the help of his old cronies, with Marthe, an elderly prostitute, leader of the band. He still uses the park benches of Paris as his lookout posts which he has numbered for convenience up to 137.
One problem is that Marthe is getting old and confuses 102 for 107. Louis is also showing the strain and now that his latest girlfriend has left, the "love of his life" is Bufo, a toad that he carries with him almost everywhere except cafè's where Bufo gets a bit panicky and would do the same to the patrons.
Spying through the windows of a Paris flat belonging to a politician's nephew, Louis Kehlweiler catches sight of something out of place down on the footpath - an object, small and white, surrounded by dog poo. A human bone! But when Kehlweiler takes his find down to the local police station, he's ridiculed and teased. Yet this tiny fragment obsesses him so much that he starts to investigate, following the trail to the tiny Breton fishing village of Port-Nicolas where there's a dog. A dog that would take a bite out of anything. Even the foot of a corpse.
However, where is the corpse? Or the murderer?
If you can take wacky characters and strange plots, and want a change from your normal NYPD/CSI type crime thrillers then this one might be the one for you. This is a very different wacky thriller that kept the pages turning as strange things kept happening. At times it was brilliant and at others pretty silly. It goes all over the place, twisting like a French farce with every challenge and re-challenge. I was suitably impressed.
Fred Vargas was born in Paris in 1957. As well as being a best-selling author in France, she (yes She!) is an historian and archaeologist.
She worked at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), which she joined in 1988. She later joined the Institut Pasteur, as a eukaryotic archaeologist.
She mostly writes police thrillers (policiers). They take place in Paris and feature the adventures of Chief Inspector Adamsberg and his team. Her interest in the Middle Ages is manifest in many of her novels, especially through the person of Marc Vandoosler, a young specialist in the period. Seeking Whom He May Devour was shortlisted by the British Crime Writers' Association for the last Gold Dagger award for best crime novel of the year, and the following year The Three Evangelists won the inaugural Duncan Lawrie International Dagger. She also won the award for the second year-running with Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand.