Fred Vargas

The Chalk Circle Man

""...all of the elements of a classic Vargas mystery are here." "


Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg has been appointed to Paris as a Commissaire in the police force of the 5th arrondissement. With a reputation for unorthodoxy, his preferred method of policing is to watch and wait. His colleagues, while amused at his distracted manner, are forced to admit that his methods are highly successful.

When strange blue chalk circles start appearing during the night on the city's pavements, Adamsberg is both intrigued and alarmed. He sees the circles as a portent of something more sinister and, to his colleagues amusement, insists in each circle being carefully photographed. When a woman is found in the blue circles with her throat cut Adamsberg is suddenly on the hunt for a killer whose obsession has turned to murder.

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This is the first book in the excellent series by Fred Vargas. As a novel it is of interest to Vargas fans in that it not only provides an excellent mystery story but also shows the beginnings of Adamsberg's career. In particular the book shows the origins of Adamsberg's on/off relationship with Camille. What is also interesting is how far Adamsberg's relationship with his colleagues develops through the series. In this novel his colleagues are suspicious and his trusted sidekick, Danglard, has yet to develop the easygoing relationship that they have in later books. But all of the elements of a classic Vargas mystery are here. The suspects are a disparate group of people; each with their individual quirks and, as usual, there is a twist to the tale that it is impossible to guess in advance. Although it is perhaps not the classic Vargas of her later books it is still an excellent read and highly recommended.

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