The inhabitants of the Alpes-Maritimes region of France live in fear as sheep and humans alike are ravaged by what appears to be an enormous wolf.
Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg’s former lover Camille has taken up with enigmatic Lawrence Johnstone, a Canadian working with the wolves of the Mercantour National Park. Johnstone tells Camille that her friend Suzanne, who becomes the first human victim, has accused Massart, a local loner, of being a werewolf. But Johnstone thinks Massart is using a wolf he tamed to do the killing. A visit to Massart’s cabin finds him gone; a map marked with a rambling route points to England. The police believe the marauder is a wolf. The local populace think it’s a werewolf. So do Suzanne’s adopted son and the shepherd Watchee, who convince Camille to drive their truck as they search for Massart. By the time Adamsberg joins them, several older men are killed in the same fashion, and the police have found no links among the victims. But one of the police reports has planted an idea in Adamsberg’s idiosyncratic mind, leading him to solve the bizarre case.
Vargas has created a notably intriguing policeman in Adamsberg (Have Mercy on Us All, 2005), whose story this time draws you in and keeps you guessing until the dazzling dénouement.