Wash this blood clean from my hand by

18 February 2008


Image of Wash This Blood Clean from My Handtrans. Sian Reynolds
ISBN: 9780099488965 See also: Strangley Connected ; Thorasbook ; Dave’s Fiction Blog ; Lizzy’s Literary Life

Leaning his shoulder against the dark basement wall, Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg stood contemplating the enormous central heating boiler which had suddenly stopped working, two days before.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that I’m a huge fan of Fred Vargas’ work. And this book is no exception. The star, once more, is Commissaire Adamsberg. The plot revolves around a series of murders, the first in 1943, the latest takes place in the present of the book. Adamsberg has a special interest in this case, and the judge he believes to have committed these crimes. In each case the murder victim is killed by three stab wounds. And in each case an assailant has been found, always suffering from amnesia but also having a murder weapon in his possession. In each case the police decide that this individual is responsible and, there you go, case closed. Adamsberg is not so sure.

Although I did enjoy this book I’d have to say that it isn’t my favourite of Vargas’. Then again it may simply be that I am in somewhat of a reading slump. It is still a great detective/mystery novel. As always Adamsberg illogical self, leaping from intuition to intuition while Danglard struggles through to find the logical, rational explanation. And then there are a whole host of other supporting characters; from the always capable Lieutenant Violette Retancourt to the strange old woman Clementine and her hacker friend.

What I love most about these books is their quirkiness. And I mean that in the best way possible. But also Vargas’ ability to make us doubt our hero policeman, just enough that we’ll entertain the possibility that maybe, just maybe he is wrong. After all how on earth could a man well into his ninties still be flitting about the countryside, even travelling to Canada, murdering people?

And then of course I just love the way she writes, her use of language is wonderful, I know, it may be down to the translator, but either way, its all good.

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6 Responses

  1. jean pierre says:

    wow, this seems like a very different take on the genre…! while i really enjoy these kinds of films, i've never read a book in the genre. but this seems really cool!

  2. anne says:

    Ah, the power of the translator, at long last recognised! Or, you know, considered at least…

  3. Fence says:

    JP it is really cool. But I'd recommend reading The Three Evangelists first.

    Anne, translators are gods striding through the literary world, bringing joy to some, and misery to others. Happy?

  4. anne says:

    Yeah, that sounds about right…

  5. Fence says:

    I shall bow down and worship you so

  6. anne says:

    But maybe I'm part of those who bring misery.

    Aaah, I get it. You'll worship me so I don't bring YOU misery. But my misery-bringing ways are indiscriminate, unbiased and uninfluenceable!