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The chalk circle man / Fred Vargas ; translated from the French by Sian Reynolds.

By: Vargas, Fred.
Contributor(s): Reynolds, Sian.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookSeries: Vargas, Fred. Commissaire Adamsberg mystery: ; Vargas, Fred Commissaire adamsberg: 01.; Commissaire Adamsberg: 1.Publisher: London : Harvill Secker, 2009Description: 247 pages ; 24 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781843432722 (pbk.); 1843432722 (pbk.).Subject(s): Adamsberg, Jean-Baptiste (Fictitious character) -- Fiction | Police -- France -- Paris -- Fiction | Police chiefs -- France -- Paris -- Fiction | Murder -- Investigation -- Fiction | Award winnersGenre/Form: Detective and mystery fiction.DDC classification: Free Fiction
Contents:
Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg is not like other policemen. His methods appear unorthodox in the extreme: he doesn't search for clues; he ignores obvious suspects and arrests people with cast-iron alibis; he appears permanently distracted. In spite of all this his colleagues are forced to admit that he is highly successful - a born cop.When strange blue chalk circles start appearing overnight on the pavements of Paris, the press take up the story with amusement and psychiatrists trot out their theories. Adamsberg is alone in thinking this is not a game and far from amusing. He insists on being kept informed of new circles and the increasingly bizarre objects which they contain: a pigeon's foot, four cigarette lighters, a badge proclaiming 'I Love Elvis', a hat, a doll's head. Adamsberg senses the cruelty that lies behind these seemingly random occurrences. Soon a circle with decidedly less banal contents is discovered: the body of a woman with her throat savagely cut. Adamsberg knows that other murders will follow. The Chalk Circle Man is the first book featuring Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg, one of the most engaging characters in contemporary detective fiction.
Awards: CWA Duncan Lawrie International Dagger, 2009. | Winner of the CWA International Dagger, 2009.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg is not like other policemen. His methods appear unorthodox in the extreme: he doesn't search for clues; he ignores obvious suspects & arrests people with cast-iron alibis; he appears permanently distracted. In spite of all this his colleagues are forced to admit that he is highly successful.

"The first Adamsberg novel"--Cover.

Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg is not like other policemen. His methods appear unorthodox in the extreme: he doesn't search for clues; he ignores obvious suspects and arrests people with cast-iron alibis; he appears permanently distracted. In spite of all this his colleagues are forced to admit that he is highly successful - a born cop.When strange blue chalk circles start appearing overnight on the pavements of Paris, the press take up the story with amusement and psychiatrists trot out their theories. Adamsberg is alone in thinking this is not a game and far from amusing. He insists on being kept informed of new circles and the increasingly bizarre objects which they contain: a pigeon's foot, four cigarette lighters, a badge proclaiming 'I Love Elvis', a hat, a doll's head. Adamsberg senses the cruelty that lies behind these seemingly random occurrences. Soon a circle with decidedly less banal contents is discovered: the body of a woman with her throat savagely cut. Adamsberg knows that other murders will follow. The Chalk Circle Man is the first book featuring Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg, one of the most engaging characters in contemporary detective fiction.

Translated from the French.

CWA Duncan Lawrie International Dagger, 2009.

Winner of the CWA International Dagger, 2009.

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Excerpt provided by Syndetics

Mathilde took out her diary and wrote: 'the man sitting next to me has got one hell of a nerve.' She sipped her beer and glanced once more at the neighbour on her left, a strikingly tall man who had been drumming his fingers on the café table for the past ten minutes. She made another note in the diary: 'He sat down too close to me, as if we knew each other, but I've never seen him before. No, I'm sure I've never seen him before. Not much else to say about him, except that he's wearing dark glasses. I'm sitting on the terrace outside the Café Saint-Jacques, and I've ordered a glass of draught lager. I'm drinking it now. I'm concentrating as hard as I can on the beer. Can't think of anything better to do.' Mathilde's neighbour went on drumming his fingers. 'Something the matter?' she asked. Mathilde had a deep and very husky voice. The man guessed that here was a woman who smoked as much as she could get away with. 'No, nothing. Why?' he replied. 'Just that it's getting on my nerves, that noise you're making on the tabletop. Everything's setting my teeth on edge today.' Mathilde finished her beer. Tasteless. Typical for a Sunday. Mathilde considered that she suffered more than most from the fairly widespread malaise she called seventh-day blues. 'You're about fifty, I'd guess?' offered the man, without moving away from her. 'Might be,' said Mathilde. She felt annoyed.What business was that of his? Just then, she had noticed that the stream of water from the fountain opposite the café was blowing in the wind and sprinkling drops on the arm of the stone cherub beneath: one of those little moments of eternity. And now here was some character spoiling the only moment of eternity of this particular seventh day. Besides, people usually thought she looked ten years younger. As she told him. 'Does it matter?' asked the man. 'I can't guess ages the way other people do. But I imagine you're rather beautiful, if I'm not mistaken.' 'Is there something wrong with my face?' asked Mathilde. 'You don't seem very sure about it.' 'It's not that. I certainly do imagine you're beautiful,' the man replied, 'but I won't swear to it.' 'Please yourself,' said Mathilde. 'At any rate, you 're very good-looking, and I'll swear to that, if it helps.Well, it always does help, doesn't it? And now I'm going to leave you. I'm too edgy today to sit around talking to people like you.' 'I'm not feeling so calm, either. I was going to see a flat to rent, but it was already taken. What about you?' 'I let somebody I wanted to catch up with get away.' 'A friend?' 'No, a woman I was following in the metro. I'd taken lots of notes, and then, suddenly, I lost her. See what I mean?' 'No, I don't see at all.' 'You're not trying, you mean.' 'Well, obviously I'm not trying.' 'You are. You're very trying.' 'Yes, I am trying. And on top of that, I'm blind.' 'Oh, Christ!' said Mathilde. 'I'm so sorry.' The man turned towards her with a rather unkind smile. 'Why are you sorry?' he said. 'It's not your fault, is it?' Mathilde told herself that she should just stop talking. But she also knew that she wouldn't be able to manage that. 'Whose fault is it, then?' she asked. The Beautiful Blind Man, as Mathilde had already named him in her head, reverted to his position, three-quarters turned away. 'It was a lioness's fault. I was dissecting it, because I was working on the locomotive system of the larger cats.Why the heck should we care about their locomotive system? Sometimes I would tell myself this is really cutting-edge stuff, other times I thought, oh for God's sake, lions walk, they crouch, they pounce, and that's it. Then one day I made a false move with a scalpel . . .' 'And it squirted in your eyes.' 'Yes. How did you know?' 'There was this man once, he built the colonnade of the Louvre, and he was killed like that. A decomposed camel, laid out on a dissecting table. Still, that was a long time ago, and it was a camel. Quite a big difference, really.' 'Well, rotten flesh is still rotten flesh. The ghastly muck went in my eyes. Everything went black. Couldn't see a thing. Kaput.' 'All because of a wretched lioness. I came across a creature like that once. How long ago was this?' 'Eleven years now. She must be laughing her head off, the lioness, wherever she is. Well, I can laugh, sometimes, these days. Not at the time though. A month later I went back and trashed the lab -- I threw bits of rotten tissue everywhere, I wanted it to go in everyone's eyes. I smashed up the work of the team studying feline locomotion. But of course it gave me no satisfaction at all. In fact, it was a big let-down.' 'What colour were your eyes?' 'Black, like swifts, the sickles of the sky.' 'And now what are they like?' 'Nobody dares tell me. Black, red and white, I should think. People seem to choke when they see them. I suppose it's a nasty sight. I just keep my glasses on all the time now.' 'I'd like to see them,' said Mathilde, 'if you really want to know what they look like. Nasty sights don't bother me.' 'People say that, then they regret it.' 'When I was diving one day, I got bitten on the leg by a shark.' 'OK, I suppose that's not a pretty sight either.' 'What do you miss the most from not being able to see?' 'Your questions are getting on my nerves. We're not going to spend all day talking about lions and sharks and suchlike beasts, are we?' 'No, I suppose not.' 'Well, if you must know, I miss girls. Not very original, is it?' 'The girls cleared off, did they, after the lioness?' 'Looks like that. You didn't say why you were following the woman.' 'No reason. I follow lots of people, actually. Can't help it, it's an addiction.' 'After the shark bite, did your lover clear off?' 'He left, and others came along.' 'You're an unusual woman.' 'Why do you say that?' asked Mathilde. 'Because of your voice.' 'What do you hear in people's voices?' 'Oh, come on, I'm not going to tell you that! What would I have left, for pity's sake? You've got to let a blind man have some advantages, madame,' said the man, with a smile. He stood up to leave. He hadn't even finished his drink. 'Wait. What's your name?' Mathilde asked. The man hesitated. 'Charles Reyer,' he said. 'Thank you. My name's Mathilde.' The Beautiful Blind Man said that was a rather classy name, that there was a queen called Mathilde who had reigned in England in the twelfth century. Then he walked off, guiding himself with a finger along the wall. Mathilde couldn't care less about the twelfth century, and she finished the blind man's drink, with a frown. For a long time afterwards, for weeks during her excursions along the pavements of Paris, Mathilde looked out for the blind man, out of the corner of her eye. But she didn't find him. She guessed his age as about thirty-five. From the Hardcover edition. Excerpted from The Chalk Circle Man by Fred Vargas All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

In the first of eight novels featuring Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg (last seen in the United States in This Night's Foul Work), the quirky commissaire has just been posted to police headquarters in the fifth arrondissement, where he is already renowned for his uncanny ability to solve murders by making leaps that defy logic. But after instantly solving one murder, he faces a much more complicated case: for four months, someone has been leaving blue chalk circles around found objects on the streets of Paris. While the city's intellectuals argue whether the circles are the work of a cynical con artist or a genuine madman, Adamsberg senses something far more sinister. Then the first of several corpses turn up inside a chalk circle. VERDICT As with other novels in this series, readers should settle in to be unsettled. Delight is found not so much in the details of plot as in the oddities of character. The crime, the suspects, and the commissaire are all pleasantly off-kilter and equally baffling. A definite pick for Francophile mystery buffs who also enjoy Georges Simenon's Maigret series and Pierre Magnan (Death in the Truffle Wood).--Ron Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

Fans of Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg, the sleuth who doesn't do deductive reasoning, will welcome the first in Vargas's inspired crime series (This Night's Foul Work; Wash This Blood Clean from My Hand), originally published in France in 1990. Newly transferred from his home in the Pyrenees to Paris, the 45-year-old Adamsberg arrives with a reputation for solving big cases, though his diffident manner doesn't impress his colleague and foil, Adrien Danglard. A solitary man drawing blue chalk circles at night around stray objects in Paris streets manages to create a media sensation, but Adamsberg senses evil behind the act. When the corpse of a woman is found encircled in chalk, he's proven right. Adamsberg's indirect approach, his ability to sense cruelty and to let solutions percolate to the surface make him one of the more intriguing police detectives in a long time. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

When European mystery authors make their way to the U.S., it often happens that their books are published out of order. So it is with this sixth Commissaire Adamsberg novel to appear here, which, in fact, is the series debut. Newly promoted from the provinces to a post in Paris, the Maigret-like Adamsberg whose intuitive sleuthing combines the belief of a child and the philosophy of an old man quickly overcomes the doubts of his colleagues and homes in on the seemingly insignificant phenomenon of chalk circles being drawn at random points around the city, each circle enclosing a piece of urban detritus (a Coke can, a single shoe). Adamsberg senses that the circles will soon surround dead bodies, and so they do. In addition to introducing her hero, Vargas also provides backstory on a host of other ongoing series characters, including the white-wine-swilling Inspector Danglard, whose logical mind is continually tested by his new boss' belief in instinct. Later installments ramp up the contrast between Vargas' comic touch and her dark themes, but as a stage-setter, this one is required reading for series devotees.--Ott, Bill Copyright 2009 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

An eccentric Parisian killer baffles professional and amateur sleuths alike. Impulsive oceanographer Mathilde Forestier becomes more than a bit obsessed with Charles Reyer, an impossibly handsome blind man she meets on the terrace of the Caf Saint-Jacques. Because she habitually wanders the streets of Paris, she makes herself responsible for finding and helping him. When success in this endeavor eludes her, Mathilde goes for assistance to the police headquarters of the 5th arrondissement, to which Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg (This Night's Foul Work, 2008, etc.) has just been transferred. The charmingly quirky Adamsberg has taken Inspector Adrien Danglard under his wing as a protg, and the admiration is more than mutual; Danglard seems as obsessed with his boss as Mathilde is with Charles. Having recently solved a baffling murder case, Adamsberg finds Mathilde's whimsy entertaining, and they discuss the weird local phenomenon of The Chalk Circle Man, who has been drawing large circles accompanied by a cryptic message all over the city. Finally locating the frequently choleric Charles, Mathilde brings him into her household, which also includes impossibly sunny assistant Clmence Valmont, who's constantly scanning the personal ads for a lover despite her advanced age. When a murdered woman is found inside one of the chalk circles, the case becomes a serious police matter. Mathilde's claim that she knows the identity of the Chalk Circle Man, who may be merely the killer's unwitting accomplice, implicates her in murder. As droll and fascinating as la ville lumi're itself. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.