Saturday, 23 October 2010
A big thank you to whoever it was who recommended Fred Vargas to me. I'm reading her at the moment, This Night's Foul Work, and it's terrific, full of intriguing and appealing characters, not least the hero, Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg, whose reactions to everything are unexpected and endearing. He's small and vague and really rather wonderful. The first time in ages that I've found a new writer I like in this genre. Fred (short for Frédérique) Vargas is an historian turned writer, with an acute attention to detail, wit and imagination. I'm only a third of the way into this book but already I'm hooked on her unusual eye for character and intrigue. The police call in an archaeologist to help exhume a grave as the soil structure baffles them; the expert digs with his hands and from touch alone tells them how the grave was dug by two men, in turns, with distinctive ways of holding the pick-axe. The whole section was brilliantly done, with humour and cleverness that didn't run to ego. I hope her other books are as good. I've ordered two more, including the one that preceded This Night's Foul Work, as it alludes to terrible trauma for our hero. Can't wait!