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VINE VOICEon 7 February 2013
This is a translation so it is difficult to comment on whether some aspects of the book are the fault of the author or the narrator but someone must take the responsiblity.
The writing is straight forward which should make it an easy read but I found it took a long time as the language and style is very jarring.
All through the characters are explained well and they manage to avoid some very stupid plot twists which often happen in this type of book. Has to be said though that I found it hard to find any level of engagement with the characters - Soliman was just impossible, Watchee was interesting but then behaved out of character.
Oddly, I struggled to place the time setting of the story. At some points the technology is very advanced but then they have difficulty with a mobile which doesn't fit. There is also a huge opportunity missed with the geographical setting - this area is beautiful and the landscape should be a bigger part of the book than it is, had this happened then the atmosphere would have been more appropriate to the plot. Also more time should have been given to the mountain communities with their beliefs, culture and legends.
I thought the translation was terrible, to the point that I had to look up the person who did it as I was convinced that they could not have been a native English speaker, although it turns out she is. Some examples "Nobody said anything, pregnantly." - what is this about??? - "You'll be in the slammer for the rest of your twatty lives" - are we in the London East End in the 1960s?? The plot is OK but completely spoilt by the clumsy language around it.
A link is established with Adamsberg early in the plot but then not explored until we almost forget about him. As a character, he stands out from the rest as having some interest (although I was very curious how he could drop his normal day job so easily and what is the distraction with the woman trying to kiil him?). He does bring the book to life when he gets involved and the other characters feed off him. With him in the plot, the book develops into a fairly standard police novel, the final third is much more readable than the rest of the book but I didn't find the procedures believable.
At the end there is a full explanation by way of a police statement which was a great way to wind up the story, there should be more endings like this in crime fiction.
Reading this for a book club, I had to plod on with it (I'd have put it down after a few pages normally) and eventually got the feeling that there was an interesting story hidden away, trouble is that it was very well hidden. Unless you are already a fan of Fred Vargas I would recommend you pass this one by - I won't pick up any more of hers!!
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on 2 December 2013
An out of the ordinary detective novel,where the culprit can be guessed very early on and the detective plays a relatively small but vital role.Three amateur sleuths provide the main thread of the story and their developing inter-relationships most of the quirky humour.They are likeable well-written characters and although the story is somewhat far-fetched almost throughout,it certainly does not feel like a wasted journey;leaving the reader satisfied and keen to read more Fred Vargas "Adamsberg"novels.
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on 8 February 2014
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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on 28 May 2017
have just ordered the third in the series. Especially liked this book because I live close to the initial action and am familiar with the other places..
Well written and , in places, amusing.
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on 20 March 2016
I'm starting to like Adamsberg - but he is a rather puzzling sort of detective. The plot was well executed and intriguing, but the characters weren't as well drawn as the previous book I'd read in the series. I think my slight problem with this book boils down to the translation, which seems a little awkward at times. Overall, however I enjoyed this and will read more, perhaps next time in French.
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on 24 December 2017
Another great Fred Vargas mystery book. Professor Vargas writes wonderful mysteries, and detective Jean Baptise Adamsberg is a great, moody, and enigmatic detective to follow in Vargas's books. Be sure to read the Adamsberg mysteries in order.
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on 23 September 2016
Fantastic tale. I am really getting into books by Fred Vargas. Each one very different.
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on 7 December 2017
The characters are distinctive and the storyline compelling, but I was not totally convinced by them and felt that something was missing.
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on 16 January 2015
The usually quirky Adamsberg. Prefer the later books where his team are more involved but still very enjoyable.
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on 2 February 2014
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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