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by Fred Vargas translated by Siân Reynolds

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-14-312004-9
Publisher: Penguin

A brilliant Parisian sleuth untangles a grisly English crime with links to a French murder.

Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg (The Night's Foul Work, 2008, etc.) is in London for a law-enforcement conference, an entirely satisfying adventure, even if he's accompanied by his awkward, overexcited deputy Danglard, an underling who tries to be helpful by translating for his boss, who doesn't really need it. By happenstance, the French duo is with their British counterpart, DCI Radstock, when the British detective is approached by elderly Lord Clyde-Fox, who insists they accompany him posthaste to Highgate Cemetery. Though Radstock patronizingly describes Clyde-Fox as an "eccentric," this time the nobleman is on the mark: He's found a row of shoes with the dismembered feet still inside them. Adamsberg is naturally intrigued. Despite the intrusion of other cases, he carries his interest back to Paris. In fact, both Adamsberg and Danglard look into the checkered history of Highgate Cemetery, soon focusing on the murder of elderly former journalist Pierre Vaudel. The man reportedly had no enemies, but his will tells another story, creating suspects within the family. The reappearance of Clyde-Fox revives interest in the grisly case, which has surprising links to the Vaudel murder. Vampires, the Great War and longstanding family feuds also figure prominently. The death of a beloved cat and a personnal shakeup in the police department add background texture.

Adamsberg's seventh outing bubbles entertainingly along via the chemistry of its recurring cast and the author's knack for creating colorful minor characters.