Monday 25 June 2018

French crime books

I seem to be in a French crime book mood at the moment... not that unusual for me I suppose. LOL!

First up, Dog Will Have His Day by Fred Vargas. This is book 2 of her 'Three Evangelists' series, set in Paris.

Louis Kehlweiler is one those people who watch and keep tabs on things. He has a network of people who also watch and tell him what's going on around France. In this manner he solves occasional crimes. Out watching a politician's house one night he spots something, a tiny piece of bone embedded in some dog excrement. He recognises it as human bone and wants to know how this could happen. Investigations lead Louis and his pet toad, Bufo, to a small fishing village in Finistére in the extreme west of Brittany, where a man with a dog travels to Paris every week. Why? He finds he needs help and calls in two of the Three Evangelists, Marc and Mathias, both bring things to an investigation that he doesn't have, which is just as well as an ex-girlfriend living in the village could be clouding his judgement. This is more of a 'Two' Evangelists book than 'Three' but that's ok, the book doesn't suffer at all. Louis is a fascinating character, the product of a liason between a German soldier and French woman during WW2, so his life has never been easy. His habit of watching and keeping files and newspaper cuttings on people is intriguing and made me wonder if there are people doing this kind of thing. Excellent sense of place in this story, I've been to Finistére and it really is as wild and woolly as it's portrayed in the book. Really enjoyed this one and hope to see more of Louis in future books in this series. Although as there are only three and all were written in the late 1990s it does look like there might not be any more, especially as Fred Vargas seems to be concentrating on her Adamsberg series now. Ah, well.

Next, The Dark Vineyard by Martin Walker. This is book 2 of his 'Bruno, Chief of Police' series.

Bruno Courréges is pulled from his bed early one morning via a call telling him a field and barn are on fire. Fearing the blaze will spread in this very dry summer the fire brigade are already there fighting the fire. It turns out that the crop that's been set alight is a GM crop that hardly anyone knew was there. Is the the work of 'ecolos' who live in the area, possibly a members of a local commune? It also emerges that an American wine corporation is interested in developing the wine growing capacity of the region and the owner is already there in St. Denis making contacts and putting out feelers. One old man, his home, and farm are standing in the way of these plans. This is a can of worms and Bruno needs to handle this with kid gloves if he's to succeed in his quest to find the arsonist. One thing he doesn't need is a dead body to add to his woes... After I'd read the first book in this series I was undecided about carrying on. I liked it well enough but wasn't mad about it in all honesty. Regardless, I did decide to reserve this second book from the library and am pleased I did as I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I liked its quirky set of characters, the details of Bruno's life (which I think I found a bit irritating last time) and the very strong sense of place in the Perigord region of France. I enjoyed all the foodie details too, even if one or two made me think, 'Hmmm, not sure about that...' A good instalment and I shall certainly read on now.

Lastly, The Flemish Shop by Georges Simenon.

A Flemish woman named Anna Peeters, living with her family just over the Belgian border in France, comes to see Maigret. She wants him to come to her coastal town to prove that her brother, Joseph, is not responsible for the disappearance of Germaine Piedboef. This young woman has had his child, out of wedlock, but Joseph is engaged to someone else that the family want him to marry. The whole village thinks this Belgian family have murdered Germaine but Maigret is unconvinced. Another wild coastal Maigret story, these are always quite good as Georges Simenon was excellent at conjuring up the isolation and insular nature of life in these regions. This is a fascinating 'family' based story which explores the sometimes claustrophic atmosphere that exists around some homes. Human nature at its most obessive and stifling and also 'inexplicable'. I do hope ITV will dramatise a few of these 'away from Paris' Maigret books.



DesLily said...

Sheesh... if I were you I'd never "buy books" just keep taking them out of the Library!! I only wish I could read as much as you do Sis!!!!

BooksPlease said...

Cath, I've just finished reading The three Evangelists and hoping that the library has the next two books! So glad you enjoyed Dog Will Have His Day! I've grown fond of Mathias, Marc and Lucien, so I'm glad there are two more books. She writes such excellently quirky characters - and I still have a few Adamsberg books to read.

Kay said...

I keep thinking that one day I'll read some of these series. Maybe. As time goes by, it becomes more and more clear that I won't get to read 'all the books'. LOL

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

French crime, Nordic crime, Vintage crime, Classic crime - any kind of crime would suit me, so long as I could just find the time to read some of these amazing books, which get recommended left, right and centre!

Fred Vargas has been on my radar for some time and I really like the eccentricities of 'Bruno' in the Martin Walker series. I guess that I should concentrate on these two new to me authors, rather than yearn after re-reading all those delicious 'Maigret' stories, which I devoured so eagerly as a teenager!

Thanks for another most enjoyable post and I hope that like me, you manage to cope with what remains of this massive heatwave :)


Cath said...

Pat: LOL... I probably do get most of my books from the library. It really would cost too much to buy them *all*.

Margaret: So pleased you enjoyed The Three Evangelists. I think I have four Adamsberg books left to read... one is on my library tbr pile. Not sure what I'll do when I've finished all her books. Fantastic Fiction have nothing listed for her that's imminent.

Kay: No, there's really no way to read all of the books you *might* like. I do sometimes wonder what I might be missing out on but it can't be helped, there's only so much time.

Yvonne: AS I just said to Kay there really is no way to read everything. I wish there was but it can't be done.

Fred Vargas and Martin Walker are just two authors who are writing crime books about France. Peter May is very good as well and Martin O'Brien. Hopefully there are more as I don't want to run out.

This heat is awful but I gather for us in the SW it should break on Sunday. Fingers crossed that they're right!