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Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand (Commissaire Adamsberg) [Paperback]

Fred Vargas , Sian Reynolds
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 Jan 2008 Commissaire Adamsberg (Book 4)

Between 1943 and 2003 nine people have been stabbed to death with a most unusual weapon: a trident. In each case, arrests were made, suspects confessed their crimes and were sentenced to life in prison. One slightly worrying detail: each presumed murderer lost consciousness during the night of the crime and has no recollection of it.

Commissaire Adamsberg is convinced all the murders are the work of one person, the terrifying Judge Fulgence. Years before, Adamsberg's own brother had been the principal suspect in a similar case and avoided prison only thanks to Adamsberg's help.

History repeats itself when Adamsberg, who is temporarily based in Quebec for a training mission, is accused of having savagely murdered a young woman he had met. In order to prove his innocence, Adamsberg must go on the run from the Canadian police and find Judge Fulgence.

Winner of the 2007 Duncan Lawrie International Dagger for The Three Evangelists.

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Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand (Commissaire Adamsberg) + This Night's Foul Work (Commissaire Adamsberg) + Have Mercy On Us All (Commissaire Adamsberg)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; First printing of this edition edition (3 Jan 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099488965
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099488965
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 88,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"No one writes crime novels quite like the French author Fred Vargas... another compelling read by this most original of novelists" (Susanna Yager Sunday Telegraph)

"Vargas has a wonderfully offbeat imagination that makes each of her novels a refreshing delight" (Peter Guttridge Observer)

"Establishes Vargas beyond doubt as a cool, clever, original and deeply humane crime writer" (Heather O’Donoghue Times Literary Supplement)

"It is enthralling and great fun from start to finish... all done with great verve, wit and invention" (Allan Massie Scotsman)

"There is a haunting quality to Vargas's writing" (Kath Murphy Scotland on Sunday)

Book Description

'Riveting reading... Vargas writes novels that won't let you go, disturb and linger long' - The Times

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Addictive Writer 2 April 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Views on Fred Vargas could hardly be more divided with the same book getting one star and five star reviews.

I can only conclude that some people naturally tune into her world and some people expect something different and are confused/unsatisfied by it. Although they contain crime and detection they don't really fit into that genre. Finding out who did it is largely incidental and if realism is what you're after you'll be disappointed. If you want to lose yourself in an alternative reality and you enjoy the quirky and eccentric then you're in for a treat.

If you like her books, as I do, you can't wait for the next translation to come out! I hope she's writing more to keep the translators going!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get to the half way mark 24 Oct 2007
This book is amazing! I started it with a struggle. Read the first few chapters and wondered whether or not to put it down and I'm pleased I decided the writing was worth perservering. Fred Vargas has such a good command of language; her writing is tremendous and it was this alone that kept me going. The translation is fine and I can't comment on how much work the translator has done.

The characters take a little bit of time to warm to but Adamsberg, the lead character, has such an amazing mind. Join all of the best detectives together and you have this one. The description of the the characters eventually brings them all to life - male or female. As the narrative is so well written you feel like you're in their minds and unsure who to trust.

The plot is adequately discussed in the blurb that it needs little clarification. Judge Fulgence didn't quite come to life as much as I was hoping but then I felt he wasn't the centre stage here and that it was as much about Adamsberg's journey for truth as it was the story of the Judge.

With unlikely heroes and heroines and the reader being taken down some wonderful paths this novel is one to be savoured rather than devoured. Minor characters change direction and suddenly have massive parts to play; characters that you thought you could trust arouse suspicion. All the elements necessary for a GOOD crime fiction novel.

This is my first novel by Fred Vargas and I would happily read something else she has written. Take your time, don't rush it and if you aren't enjoying it as you approach the half way mark then that's the time to stop.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER
I know of no other writer who could possibly pull off the kind of books Vargas writes - eccentric, witty crime novels in which the protagonist wilfully embraces the impossible, and it turn out to be correct. She is a true marvel. Adamsberg is a genius creation - intuitive, thoughtful, stubborn, romantic and very, very interesting. And her plots are works of wicked, imaginative genius as well. She's a marvel and we are immensely lucky that her books are being translated into English. Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand is supremely intelligent crime fiction, written with sprightliness and wit, at the same time as being completely bonkers. It's absolutely first-class entertainment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tremendously enjoyable 26 April 2011
By M. V. Clarke VINE VOICE
Another marvellous entry in Vargas' highly eccentric series starring Commissaire Adamsberg. Adamsberg is convinced that he knows the true identity of the perpetrator of several murders that took place over a 60-year period, despite confessions for them having been made by other individuals. His knowledge is based on events in his youth and he manages to persuade colleagues to join him in his quest for justice. Interweaved with this is a trip to Canada for some specialist training, in which Adamsberg himself is suspected of a murder that takes place in the same way as all the others. His dramatic attempts to evade capture and prove the identity of the perpetrator make for a fast-paced and energetic finale. Highly recommended, unconventional, and engaging.
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5.0 out of 5 stars wash this blood clean from my hand 17 Mar 2013
Please write more, fred vargas. i imagine if you are french you get even more out of these books as there seems to be an ironical undertone which we might miss. the characters are wonderful, slightly dickensian, and each new publication is a great event in our reading life. i wish there were more
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4.0 out of 5 stars Larger than life but fascinating 6 Aug 2009
By Huck Flynn VINE VOICE
I'd warn those new to Vargas not to expect totally believeable plots or painstaking proceduralism. Her detective Adamsberg is charismatic and wondrous strange - Maigret on a Sherlock Holmesian trip. In Wash This Blood the Parisian detective is chasing a ghost murderer from his past - the shadowy Judge whom he suspects of rising from the grave to continue his serial killing career with a 3 pronged garden fork (i kid you not). Adamsberg then ends up making enemies of the Canadian Mounties (yes, honestly) in a series of bizarre twists. It's wonderful! Why? Well because the plot is fiendishly macabre, amusing, complex, melodramatic and gripping. Adamsberg and colleagues (particularly Dangler and Retancourt) are eccentric and interesting, the dialogue witty. Ok there are faults but the charm of the story outweighs those if you are prepared to suspend your disbelief and treat it as an entertainment. It's intelligent escapism. Stay away if you want gritty realism.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mahjong-inspired killing spree 31 Aug 2011
Fred Vargas defies and challenges all conventions and expectations about police procedurals.
This 5th volume in a series of nine so far, is a high point in Fred Vargas' tale of the cases of Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg J-BA), who heads a 28-strong Crime Brigade in Paris. J-BA grew up in the Pyrenees with five sisters and RaphaŽl, a kid brother first mentioned in this book. This is evidence of a deep trauma: For 30 years J-BA has been collecting evidence to exonerate his missing brother from killing his (pregnant) girl friend with three stabs in a straight line. At the time the brothers were 18 and 16... And already at the time of this murder J-BA knew who really killed the girl. He has since then assembled 7 more murder files about his suspect, a feared judge, but he was never able to prove anything. The judge controlled many people in sensitive positions and moved soon after a murder, to remain dormant for years. All 8 victims (M/F; old,/young, rich/poor) were killed as if by a trident in the belly area, same depth, marginal variations in width, always in a perfectly straight line. The judge passed away in the 1980s. J-BA attended his burial.
Sixteen years later, a girl is found dead in the Strasbourg area with similar wounds and J-BA is rattled. In Strasbourg he upsets his police counterpart, with worse to come, but gains added food for thought. He soon moves to Quebec, Canada as head of a team of eight for a DNA-course. There, J-BA falls into a devious trap. A girl he slept with is found dead with the trident's markings. To save his skin, he smuggles himself back to France, where he is wanted and far from safe...
The attraction of Fred Vargas (a she, historian, archaeologist)'s books is the characters, the dialogues, the ideas and the atmosphere. But not the plots.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars French detective with Gallic charm and sheer class
I keep forgetting just how much I enjoy Fred Vargas. I picked up the first three novels a couple of years ago and devoured them but got distracted by other works and never went... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Plucked Highbrow
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I was shocked by poor quality of the writing in this thriller. The author is widely acclaimed by literary critics and this book has won an international award. Read more
Published on 26 May 2011 by Strikethree
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book by a compelling writer
First Sentence: Leaning his shoulder against the dark basement wall, Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg stood contemplating the enormous central heating boiler which had suddenly stopped... Read more
Published on 31 May 2010 by L. J. Roberts
3.0 out of 5 stars Undecided at this point
I have just ordered another Fred Vargas - but I have to admit I struggled a bit with this book. Whilst having no trouble following the plot, the language felt stilted and awkward... Read more
Published on 8 Nov 2008 by lmhh
1.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinarily Bad
This was my first Fred Vargas novel. I hope it will be my last.
Wash This Blood... is one of the poorest crime novels I've ever read, and its astonishing that I managed to get... Read more
Published on 23 April 2008 by Particular Press
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant detective novel
I'm hooked on Vargas, she is possibly the best crime fiction writer in the world at the moment. On holiday I read this after a couple of other crime novels, including Simon... Read more
Published on 1 April 2008 by andymss
3.0 out of 5 stars The cult of the weird
Why can I not stop reading Fred Vargas, when her books get on my nerves so much ? Do I enjoy being irritated as well as hooked ? Read more
Published on 2 Feb 2008 by Ann Fairweather
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