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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I think Vargas is brilliant but don't start here
Don't expect this to be a conventional crime novel. This is one of those whodunnits in which the main point of the story isn't who actually did it. It's better to journey than to arrive - even, as in this case, with two of the oddest people you've ever met in a stinking, clapped-out cattle truck. The mysterious savaging of first the sheep and then the human beings is...
Published 21 months ago by Rivvy

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't finish it
I was looking forward to reading this book, as the author is new to me, I enjoy the genre, love and know France, and am familiar with the region. But how to get through a book with such a clunking translation? Mr Bellos fails to find a consistent voice for the characters, who wander from bizarre slang ("you'll be in the slammer for the rest of your twatty lives") to...
Published on 18 Feb 2009 by Mr. A. W. Roe


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't finish it, 18 Feb 2009
By 
Mr. A. W. Roe (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Seeking Whom He May Devour (Commissaire Adamsberg) (Paperback)
I was looking forward to reading this book, as the author is new to me, I enjoy the genre, love and know France, and am familiar with the region. But how to get through a book with such a clunking translation? Mr Bellos fails to find a consistent voice for the characters, who wander from bizarre slang ("you'll be in the slammer for the rest of your twatty lives") to Edwardian formality ("swithering"??). There also seems to be indecision on whether to make this UK English of the "old chap" variety, or to use Americanisms like "wrench" (as opposed to "spanner") and "fresh-painted". And at times you can almost see the translator writhing to force a paragraph from French into what he takes for English:"She can pick whomever she wants. Whoever she likes best."
This may sound like nit-picking, but it truly spoiled my enjoyment of this book, as the lumpen translation jars so frequently.
As to the story itself, well I found it rather slow, and the insistence on character quirks (e.g. the dictionary quotations) become painful after a while. I might try another, based on the other reviews here, but it will have to be in the original to have any chance at all.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Curse of the Were-Translator, 10 Jan 2011
By 
Huck Flynn "huckleberry" (northern ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
as a big fan of Vargas and Adamsberg this sadly disappointed me - where This Night's Cruel Work and others are the sublime bordering the ridiculous, this has crossed the border into ridiculous and outstayed its welcome. as others have suggested, the translator David Bellos must take a deal of the blame - his stilted and over literal interpretations are tedious and i suspect destroy much of the whimsical humour and dialogue - the title is the first example of this - grammatically correct but a bit formal.
Adamsberg doesn't really make a proper appearance in the plot until over half way through and while vargas other characters are quirky and entertaining the ludicrous werewolf hunt they are on rather takes any suspense out of the story. "Chilling and slick" it says on the cover - i think they left out the word "Not" from the Times quotation. Even the subplot is poorly handled and the book ends more in slapstick than cliffhanger. Readable but the worst in the Adamsberg canon.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I think Vargas is brilliant but don't start here, 31 Oct 2012
This review is from: Seeking Whom He May Devour (Commissaire Adamsberg) (Paperback)
Don't expect this to be a conventional crime novel. This is one of those whodunnits in which the main point of the story isn't who actually did it. It's better to journey than to arrive - even, as in this case, with two of the oddest people you've ever met in a stinking, clapped-out cattle truck. The mysterious savaging of first the sheep and then the human beings is really just an excuse for a whacky, whimsical fantasy. The denoument is merely a convention - what kept me turning the pages (and I did keep turning them) was the pleasure of inhabiting the dream-like world Fred Vargas always manages to create.

The translator comes in for a lot of stick from other reviewers and, sadly, it's easy to see why. The colloquialisms creak. Who, in the real world (or even on the fantastical planet Vargas) talks about "'copters"? If you want to abbreviate helicopters, it's "choppers". The best translations of Vargas' books are by Sian Reynolds. I have to say read the ones translated by her first and then the other ones. By that point if, like me, you're totally absorbed in and enchanted by the series, you'll let the poor old translator off. I started with The Chalk Circle Man. Not only could I not put it down but from then on I couldn't wait to get hold of the next Commissaire Adamsberg book.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars no speaka de eengleesh, 8 Mar 2008
By 
I loved the two Fred Vargas books translated by Sian Reynolds(The Three Evangelists & Wash This Blood...) which I read before this and I wanted to love this one as much but was regularly distracted by the clunking translation by David Bellos. The prose was often too flat and lumpen to carry the wit and verve of this writer's imagination, the so-called idioms either dated or simply opaque. I imagine she is tricky to translate - but I'm glad I didn't read this one first because, despite its intriguing mystery and Jaques Tati-like cast of characters, I might have attributed the flawed prose to Fred herself and have been put off her other works.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Where there's boots there's hope..., 28 Jun 2012
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Seeking Whom He May Devour (Commissaire Adamsberg) (Paperback)
I like Fred Vargas's quirky style and her flic Commissaire Adamsberg who doesn't exactly do everything by the book, and who might, for instance, spend a lot of time thinking - and not always about the case he is currently engaged upon. There is some moaning about the translation of this book on the Amazon site and yes, there were one or two moments that didn't add up. For instance on page 85 internal consciousnesses change from Camille's to Johnstone's without any signifier. Camille begins the thought and Johnstone ends it. Nice trick if you can do it, but since neither Camille or Johnstone are telephathic it just knocks you sideways a bit. There are other small niggles, but once the plot takes hold it becomes too enthralling to bother with the odd bit of misplaced grammar.

The plot involves Camille, Adamsberg's lost love, who comes to the fore because the mountain fastness in which she is living is also home to a newly introduced pack of wolves. Camille is staying with her friend Suzanne and her adopted son, plus Watchee, her rather strange but entirely honourable shepherd. Well then - wolves, sheep - what do you think? Only this concerns a monstrous wolf that no one has seen - because, so the rumour goes, he's a werewolf. Before long they are haring off on the chase of this phenomena, along with Camille's new boyfriend the hunky Canadian Laurence Johnstone. Adamsberg might be thought to feel his nose being put out of joint, but he's also too busy trying to dodge a crazy red-haired girl who believes he has killed her lover. He did, but not on purpose.

This is great stuff. Some of it throwing up wild scenarios that seem to go nowhere, but Vargas works her magic, not least her brilliant characterisations, and I was rapt for every murderous moment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars boring and intensely irritating!, 13 Feb 2009
By 
still searching (MK UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Seeking Whom He May Devour (Commissaire Adamsberg) (Paperback)
Whether any or most of the blame can be laid at the feet of the translator Heaven only knows but this has to be one of the most irritating books I've ever read. It's liberally sprinkled with clichéd Hollywood terms, like referring to the police as `flics', not to mention clichéd characters with clichéd attitudes: when Vargas does try to invest a character with a degree of originality she renders them unconvincingly: the, naturally intelligent and astonishingly beautiful, female love interest, a composer of soap opera theme tunes who earns her real living as a plumber and spends much of her spare time `reading' plumbing supply catalogues, idolizes her ex-lover, the naturally charismatic, enigmatic but sensitive `hero' cop but then shacks up with a big, boring, brain-dead and bear loving lumberjack type who duly lumbers his way through the action, such as it is, p*ssing off other characters and the reader alike. The `hero' doesn't begin to make a real contribution to the action until about a third of the way through: from that point on it does become moderately more interesting but by then the only incentive for staying with it is to hope that the wolf has got enough about him to rip through his motley pursuers and put everyone out of their misery.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Werewolves M.I.A., 3 Nov 2006
I picked this book up expecting a werewolf tale, and although that's not what I got, I still rather enjoyed the book. It's really a whodunnit/road trip book, telling the story of three acquaintances who set out in a rickety and smelly sheep truck to find the murderer of their friend.

Rumours abound that the murderer is a werewolf because of the sheep savagings that accompanied the murder, and the three friends soon have a suspect to follow.

The author has a subtle and peculiar sense of humour which I found very appealing - particularly in the characters of Soliman and Watchee - and her portrayal of provincial French towns and the gendarmerie as being parochial and suspicious of outsiders can be quite amusing. Recommended.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fred Vargas - Seeking Whom He May Devour, 10 Nov 2005
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Of the flood of new European writers, Vargas is certainly the most mysterious, with her eccentric, esoteric novels, and maybe even the best of the all. (The only thing that Mankell has against her is a larger body of published work; if all her books are as good as the two that have found their way intro translation, then she's even better than Mankell. Which is, let's get this clear, a very big deal.)
Seeking Whom He May Devour, a chilling and atmospheric tale of werewolves in a mountainous region of French, is perhaps not QUITE as good as Have Mercy on Us All (few crime novels are), but it's still a hugely good crime novel. Vargas has a way of tapping into esoterica and intriguing, old, atavistic fears that draws the reader in helplessly even though they’re slightly scared at the same time. Wolves; the plague... She seems to have a fascination with fear and hysteria, old superstitions and phobias, that is absolutely fascinating. These universal sore points are still weak, even now, and help contribute to the power of these two books.
Adamsberg is a great detective; he's possibly even more enigmatic here than he was in his first outing, and Camille - his possible love-interest, is almost as intriguing as he is. The writing is atmospheric, effective, and carries an excellent sense of place. Vargas has an absolutely remarkable instinct for the things which frighten us, for the things which make us uncomfortable, even though we never really knew it. And even though her books seem to tap into something vaguely supernatural, something vaguely otherworldly, they still function as excellent real-world mysteries as well, which is something special indeed. I cannot recommend her highly enough.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Nice to have a 'Camille book' in tis series, 8 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Seeking Whom He May Devour (Commissaire Adamsberg) (Paperback)
I read this last in the Adamsberg series because of the translation comments below (with which I totally agree). Camille is a very shadowy offstage character in the other books, which is unusual and really interesting. However, while I wouldn't want this any different for the series as a whole, it was nice to get a single book with her as the central character and to get an impression of her through her own or a narrator's eyes rather than just those of Adamsberg and his colleagues.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Spoilt by a clumsy translation, 2 Feb 2014
By 
Fiona Wood - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Seeking Whom He May Devour (Commissaire Adamsberg) (Paperback)
As others have pointed out, the translation of this book makes for an uncomfortable read, unlike all the other Fred Vargas books which I have enjoyed immensely and which were translated by Sian Reynolds.
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Seeking Whom He May Devour (Commissaire Adamsberg)
Seeking Whom He May Devour (Commissaire Adamsberg) by Fred Vargas (Paperback - 3 Jan 2008)
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