Commissaire Adamsberg ventures out of his Parisian jurisdiction to investigate a crime as offbeat as he is.
During a heat wave, veteran police inspector Adamsberg (An Uncertain Place, 2011, etc.) uses his considerable deductive powers to nail an eerily calm widower for the murder of his wife, her body still cooling in the home they shared. Back at the station house, he's barely had a chance to rest on his laurels when a tiny but compelling woman arrives from Normandy to implore him for help. The widow Madame Vendermont, from the village of Ordebec, begins somewhat evasively reporting the disappearance of her neighbor Michel Herbier, who's vanished along with one of his favorite shotguns. He was "seized," the woman volunteers, by the infamous mounted quartet of Vargas' title. She knows this because of the legends and because her daughter Lina has seen it. Adamsberg is intrigued as much by the singular storyteller as her story, and after learning more of the lore surrounding this "Furious Army" from his tippling assistant, Danglard, he decides to investigate, with Danglard as wingman. The police pair from the city and the Ordebec oddballs, who give new meaning to the phrase "local color," seem equally bemused by one another. A series of bloody murders follows, linked to local fear of the riders. Adamsberg's brilliance and outsider's perspective prove invaluable in untangling the intricate puzzle, whose components include village history, sugar cubes and a running boar.
Lively dialogue, well-defined characters and a sophisticated sense of humor add up to delightfully intelligent entertainment.