A 30-year sequence of murders continues to haunt Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg, who’s very personally involved.
All over France people have been dying of three abdominal wounds in a curiously straight line evidently inflicted by some kind of trident. In almost every case, someone’s been convicted of the murder. Only Adamsberg knows, but cannot prove, that the real killer is the politically powerful Judge Fulgence. Adamsberg’s beloved brother Raphaël was accused of murdering his girlfriend in this fashion when Fulgence was living in their village. Although Adamsberg hid evidence to get Raphaël acquitted, his brother departed, leaving Adamsberg bereft. The ordeal influences all his future relationships. When he learns of another similar murder, Adamsberg goes to the scene and accuses the judge, who was buried in 1987, only to be dismissed as obsessive. Digging deeper, he learns that each suspect who’s been arrested was drunk and remembers nothing. When Adamsberg and his department are sent to Canada for DNA training, he’s framed for a copycat murder. The RCMP orders him detained, but before his arrest, he escapes back to France, where he hides out while a computer expert looks for evidence to clear him before he’s arrested for a murder even he’s not sure he didn’t commit.
Another of Vargas’s powerful explorations of unusual crimes (Seeking Whom He May Devour, 2006, etc.): first-class from start to finish.