Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fred Vargas in the newspaper



My review of Fred Vargas' The Chalk Circle Man appears here.

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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14 Comments:

Blogger Fred said...

"Quirky" is a good word for Vargas' novels. That includes many of her characters as well as the crimes, or, to be precise, or some aspects of them anyway. One in particular involves the killers' means of sending messages to the police and the general public, whether it be the objects found inside the chalk circle, or messages read out by the town crier.

She's also on my list of authors to keep track of. I've only read two by her so far, so I'm looking forward to finding others by her.

August 23, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I generally don't like the word because it seems too closely synonymous with "twee." But it works for Vargas. She explores the roots of her characters' oddities and thereby makes them more than just cute affectations.

Another one of Vargas' quirks is her slow build-ups -- unusual for a murder mystery. Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand is the most prominent example.

August 23, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

Nice review, Peter. I have got to get on to these.

August 23, 2009  
Blogger Julia Buckley said...

Great review! Way to spread the word about good mysteries.

August 23, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. For some reason I thought you might have read Vargas already.

In any case, this book would not be a bad place to start. Neither would Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand. This is one series where continuity is not a big issue.

Be aware that The Three Evangelists is not part of the Adamsberg series, though one or two of its characters pop up in small roles in the Adamsberg books.

August 23, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Julia. Vargas is an especially interesting writer about whom to spread the word. Her mysteries are not like anyone else's that I know of, with one possible exception. Even in that case, though, she and the author I have in mind are more like authorial cousins than siblings.

August 23, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

So you're not going to tell us who the cousin is?

No, I've known about Vargas for awhile, but as is often the case, I'm slow on catching up with what I know about.

August 24, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The cousin is Pierre Magnan, though uncle might be more appropriate. He’s a good deal older than Vargas.

Slow is appropriate for both these authors.

August 24, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

I've been wanting to read Magnan for some time. He is at least marketed in a more lighthearted way than Vargas, though. Obviously, I have no idea whether this is accurate.

August 24, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Now, that's interesting. Magnan's books have their delightfully lighthearted moments, but The Murdered House is as somber and Gothic as anything I can remember that may reasonably be called a crime story.

Vargas, on the other hand, though she's serious about her characters' eccentricities, plays up those eccentricities to the point where she might reasonably be called lighthearted.

Some of Magnan's work is being rereleased in paperback in the U.S. these days. I'll have to pay attention to the tone of the marketing campaign.

August 24, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

Well, the cover of Death in the Truffle Wood is pastel, and not what you would call gritty at all.

August 24, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

His work is not gritty, but it's not light-hearted either. I don't know what one would call it. Rural gothic, maybe? His books are rich, unsentimental descriptions of village lives that are almost incidentally about crime.

August 24, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

I'll try one and then I'll know.

August 24, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Death in the Truffle Wood has a pretty irrestible opening chapter -- and one more lighthearted than The Murdered House.

August 24, 2009  

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