Review: Have Mercy on Us All by Fred Vargas (Vintage)

Have Mercy on Us All

Firstly I have to say I’m ashamed of myself. No, I really am. When do you think I read the last book in this series? JUNE 2009! Let me say that another way. It’s been over 14 months (this review was first published in 13/8/2010 -gav.). I know time flies but that’s terrible. You know that it is right?

Should I have left it another 14 months? God no and I’m not waiting 14 months before reading Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand. I hope not at least as I ordered it as soon as I finished this one.

You know what I like about Eurocrime, at least the Eurocrime I’ve been reading, is that they focus in on the characters and give everything a foundation and a reason for happening. There isn’t drama for drama sake like guns and gangsters. These are ordinary people who have been twisted enough to kill.

And the method of killing in Have Mercy on Us All is certainly twisted and if I’m honest quite dramatic. The killer brings plague to the French capital but before he does he paints symbols on the door of those who are protected. At the same time he makes cryptic messages that are read out by a town crier though it takes a while for these ‘specials’ to reveal their intentions.

Again, Vargas leads the dance showing us all the events but somehow missing the right bits at the right time to end up surprising you at the end.

We find out more about Adamsberg’s character in this book and I’m not sure I like the revelation. It fits perfectly as he is a bit odd. He thinks and allows events to lead him. It’s like he’s an archaeologist slowly putting bits back together until he has enough to come to a decision on what he’s looking at. Though how he works it all out is a bit of a mystery. But he doesn’t care in the sense the he doesn’t make the emotional attachments that others would and this gets in him into trouble.

But the personal revelations show that Vargas has plans to keep his love life as complicated as the crimes he investigates.

I do need to say that I’m not sure if it’s the translation or Vargas’s writing style but this one feels a little rougher and flatter than the first two I’ve read. I think it might be the pacing or it might the that the translation has lost a little life somewhere. It was just enough to take the shine off the story.

But I’m invested and I enjoyed the crime and the solution and the mix of characters so what more can I ask?

 

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