Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Ghost Riders of Ordebec by Fred Vargas

First Sentence: A trail of tiny breadcrumbs led from the kitchen into the bedroom, as far as the spotless sheets where the old woman lay dead, her mouth open.

Comm. Adamsburg travels to Ordebec in response to a woman’s plea. Her daughter, Lina, has seen the Ghost Riders with four men. According to legend, this mean each of these men will meet a violent death. Adamsburg takes with him a young man he believes innocent of the murder for which he is accused, and his 18-year-old son, whom he recently met. Although entranced by the lovely Lina, one of the envisioned men does die and it’s time for Adamsburg to get to work.

There is nothing ordinary about a Fred Vargas book. It begins with a unique murder, quickly solved by Adamsberg, which quickly displays his understanding of people and their behaviors.

The Serious Crime Unit, of which he is the head, is a collection of strange and unusual individuals. It’s hard to imagine how they solve crimes, but solve them they do. Vargas even keeps the characters from her book “The Three Evangelists” included in this series.

Legends, ghost stories, witchcraft, and the supernatural are included in the story, but don’t overtake the fact that this is, at its core, a police procedural. Yet her books are definitely character-driven focusing not only on their physical presence, but their personal characteristics.

There is something mercurial and wise about Vega’s writing that can make you stop and think…”The world’s full of details, have you noticed? And since no details is ever repeated in exactly the same shape and always sets off others details, there’s no end to it.”

The Ghost Riders of Ordebec” started off just a bit slowly but quickly made up for it. It is, as are all her books, wonderfully weird and very French. You’ll either be completely entranced by Vargas' writing, or she’ll just not quite be your cup of tea. Me? I’m firmly in the former group.

THE GHOST RIDERS OF ORDEBEC (Pol Proc-Comm. Adamsberg-France-Contemp) – VG+
Vargas, Fred – 7th in series
Penguin Books, 2013

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