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The Three Evangelists Paperback – 5 Jan 2006

4.0 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Paperback, 5 Jan 2006
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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Secker (5 Jan. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843430894
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843430896
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 1.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,771,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"a truly original talent, creating situations and characters like nothing else in contemporary crime fiction." -- Joan Smith, The Sunday Times

Book Description

Winner of the inaugural 2006 International CWA Dagger Award. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
One morning in her Parisian house, retired Greek opera singer Sophia Simeonidis wakes to find a beech tree has appeared in her garden overnight. A fully-grown beech tree. Her husband Pierre is unconcerned, but Sophia is distinctly unnerved. How could it have got there? Who could have put it there and why? What possible reason could there be? If it’s a simple practical joke it’s not particularly funny, if it’s a symbolic warning it’s pretty obscure. She seeks help from her hew neighbours, three eccentric young historians down on their luck and an elderly ex-cop who’ve just moved into the ramshackle house next door. The problem intrigues them, and, besides, they need all the cash they can get, so agree to dig around the tree and see if anything’s been buried underneath it. They find nothing. And for a few weeks the bizarre, inexplicable mystery remains exactly that.
Until Sophia disappears. Nobody is greatly worried. Well, at least not until the point when worrying is pretty useless: a few days later her body is found in a burnt-out car. Suddenly, the mysterious tree – though still equally mysterious – seems ever-more sinister. But why? The three historians line up a plethora of mysterious suspects (her husband, her ex-lover, her niece newly returned to the capital with her child, her best friend?) and vow to discover who killed their neighbour.
It’s hard to express how good Vargas’s novels are. At least, without seeming to launch into an overenthusiastic, over-the-top, laudatory rant. Witness one press review: “Joyous, enchanting, amazing, fantastic, unclassifiable, beyond-brilliant. Readers will not hold back praise for Fred Vargas.” A bit OTT, no? Well, no, not really.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this dreadful. Each time I picked the book up, I thought 'This time I'll find out why this author wins so many prizes'. I never did and eventually I gave up on it. It was unreadable.
All is whimsy - the plot (plot?), the characters (they have no character) and the setting (sketchy) .
If this won the award for the best crime novel in its year, which unbelievably it did, then it must have been a grim year for the genre.
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Format: Paperback
First Sentence: `Pierre, something's wrong with the garden,' said Sophia.

Three young historians, Mathias, Marc and Lucian, and Marc's ex-policeman uncle, Armand, buy a ramshackle house, known as the `disgrace'. When Armand sees the three young men standing each framed by a section of a gothic window, he coins them "the three evangelists."

Their neighbor, Sophia, is an former opera singer. When she finds a tree has been planted in her garden, it causes her worry. She hires the young men to dig it up, just to reassure her that nothing is planted under it. When Sophia disappears, the young men, with the help of Armand, are determined to find out what happened.

I particularly like books which are character driven, and this certainly was. I loved the characters. Sophia, the retired opera singer worried about a tree which appears in her garden, the three evangelists, so named by Armand, an ex-flic and uncle to St. Mark (Marc the Middle Ages historian who always wears black), St. Martin (Mathias the Prehistoric historian who dislikes wearing clothes), and St. Luck (Lucian the Great Wars historian who always wears a tie). I felt Vargas really liked her characters and made me like them in turn.

Even the house, in which the four men live, almost becomes a character in the story. The story is wonderfully plotted, escalating bit-by-bit to the final climatic reveal. The reveal itself was particularly well done as it wasn't dry and unemotional, as most are, but filled with pain and disappointment.

Perhaps because she is Parisian and writing about her own city, there wasn't as strong a sense of place as I, a foreigner, might have liked. However, it is her familiarity with place that made me feel comfortable there as well.
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By M. V. Clarke VINE VOICE on 3 July 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a marvellously original crime novel from Fred Vargas, best known in the UK for her series featuring Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg. Here, we have different protagonists, three young and eccentric academics, Marc, Mathias and Lucien. As they move into a dilapidated house, along with Marc's godfather, Vandoosler, a disgraced ex-policeman, they become involved in the intriguing disappearance of their neighbour, Sophia. Initially, Sophia is alarmed to find that a tree has appeared overnight in her garden, and asks her new neighbours to investigate. Soon, she disappears and her body is eventually found. The Three Evangelists and Vandoosler uncover a complex web of jealousy and desire. This is a dark story, but laced with much wry humour and eccentric details of the lives of the people involved. Thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended.
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By Dr R TOP 500 REVIEWER on 1 Feb. 2016
Format: Paperback
Fred Vargas, the French historian and archaeologist Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau, introduces the reader to three less-than-successful historians in their mid-30s - Matthias Delamarre, a prehistorian, Marc Vandoosler, a specialist in medieval life, and Lucien Devernois, an expert on World War I. The three live together in an old house, called the Disgrace, with Marc’s godfather, Armand Vandoosler, a former police Commissaire, who originally referred to the friends as the Three Evangelists.

The author has great fun describing the distain of each obsessive academic for the others’ periods of study. Their immaturity, which might have been annoying, was balanced by the experience and gravitas of Armand. The living arrangements in the Disgrace put each Evangelist on a level appropriate to his historical interest, from hunter-gatherer at the bottom, medieval then WWI. Vandoosler, existing in the current era, lives at the top.

The book opens with their neighbour, the retired Greek diva Sophia Simeonidis, opening her window to find to find a beech tree planted in her garden. Her husband Pierre, a rather vague character, is unconcerned but she approaches the Evangelists who have recently moved in to ask them to investigate and offers generous payment. They dig up the tree but find nothing buried beneath it. Shortly thereafter Sophia disappears and her niece Alexandra and her young son arrive to stay with her. Pierre’s opinion that his wife left the house is at variance with Alexandra’s certainty that her aunt was expecting her.

The Evangelists and Armand widen their investigation, helped by the latter’s friendship with the man leading the police team, the surly Commissaire Leguennec.
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