by Raymond Radiguet translated by Christopher Moncrieff
Although the 1930’s mini challenge has come to an end, when I spotted this book at work I thought it might fit, and wanted to read more books of that time. Of course then I read the details and discovered that it was actually written earlier than that… Oh well
The devil in the flesh created quite a bit of a scandal when it was published, semi-autobiographical, the author wrote it from the age of sixteen to eighteen, after his own affair with a married woman. And that, my dears, is the central theme to this book. In fact, it is the end all and the be all of everything in this book. Our 15/16 year old narrator’s affair with a married woman. And I found that incredibly off-putting.
Author: Fred Vargas ; trans from the french by Sian Reynolds
An Adamsberg novel
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.
Author: Fred Vargas
Trans: Sian Reynolds
As you may already know I’m a big fan of Fred Vargas’ work and while this one is a library copy I’ll be buying this when it comes out in the proper size. I can’t stand these trade publications versions. They make no sense to me. All the negatives of a hardback with none of the positives. But enough about that; on to the plot.
The most straight-forward way of describing this book is to say that it is a murder-mystery. But with characters like Adamsberg there is no such thing as a straight-forward case. So when he spots something a little “off” about the two bodies that have shown up he decides that this case his rather than giving them over to the Drugs Squad.
The first Vargas book I read was Seeking Whom He May Devour, which I loved, and the reason I picked it up was because I liked the cover, well, this one doesn’t have quite such a gripping cover, but it really did grow on me. It is quite simple, just a tree picked out by a shaft of light in a garden, everything else is half hidden in the darkness. It really suits the story.
As I’ve mentioned before characters are what make, or break, a book for me. And this book has great, if slightly odd, stars. Eccentric is probably the polite term.
Fred Vargas Trans from the French: David Bellos
Yes again a cover influenced purchase, so I am glad to report that a good cover can lead to a good read too. I really enjoyed this book. The language, characters and descriptions are fantastic, so I suppose a lot of praise must also go to the translater as well.
The book opens with the character of Lawrence Donald Johnstone, a Canadian in France to film wolves. He’s been away from his true love, grizzly bears, for far too long, and is rooting in in Mercantour. Not only for the skinny European wolves, although he has come to love them, but also because there’s a woman, Camille, in his life.
But when dead sheep, always ewes are found the locals begin to look at the “foreign Italian wolves” with suspicion and hate. They organise local hunts. Coming to believe that it is all the work of one, huge, extraordinary animal.