Mathilde took out her diary and wrote: "The man sitting next to me has got one hell of a nerve.
–Fred Vargas - The Chalk Circle Man - c.1996,2009 - pg.1
Chief Inspector Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg has recently been transferred to Paris. His police methods aren’t exactly standard procedure and his inspectors have a lot to get used to. But they can have no doubt that he is a born policeman, and while even he is unable to explain how he arrives at his conclusions he is usually correct. In this case he thinks that there is something strange about the blue chalk circles that have been appearing in the Parisian streets. He is convinced that there is something sinister about them.
This is the fifth book by Vargas that I’ve read, and loved, but the English translations appear to be published out of order. This is the book that introduces us to Adamsberg and Danglard, but other books featuring them have already appeared in print. That sort of thing annoys me, why not translate them in order? Still, it was nice to go back and see how they got to know each other, if anyone can be said to “know” Adamsberg.
As always with these books the style of writing is just great. It is that combination of slowly building up and yet keeping you reading that makes for a great story. And of course Adamsberg himself is such a character. Personally I also adore Danglard, the single father and drunk, who is frustrated by and yet appreciates Adamsberg so very much.
The detective part of the book always takes second fiddle for me. In this case the story of the mysterious blue chalk circles was entertaining enough, but to be totally honest I’m never that driven to try and figure out mysteries before the book ends. It does sometimes happen, usually I’m happier if I’m so engrossed in the story and characters that I arrive at the end alongside them.