Fred Vargas

ES-ppal-fredvargas1Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau (Paris, 7th June 1957), known by the pseudonym Fred Vargas, is a French writer, archaeozoologist and medievalist, and author of crime fiction novels. The daughter of writer Philippe Audoin (surrealist, a friend of Breton), she has a twin sister, Jo Vargas, who is a painter, while her brother is the historian Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau. She studied for her baccalaureate at the Molière Institute in Paris and earned her PhD in History with a thesis on the plague in the Middle Ages. She has worked as a researcher at the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS, for its acronym in French) and at the Pasteur Institute, and is specialized in archaeozoology. She has also worked at the archaeological excavations in Rue de Lutèce, in front of the Palais de Justice in Paris, and in the monastery of La Charité-sur-Loire.

She wrote her first crime fiction novel, Les Jeux de l’amour et de la mort, in the mid-80s, in parallel with her work at an archaeological excavation in Nièvre, winning first prize at the Cognac Festival with this book. She chose the pseudonym Vargas, as did her twin sister Jo, in homage to María Vargas, the character played by Ava Gardner in The Barefoot Contessa. The main series of novels by Vargas, and the one that has been the most successful, is that of Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg. She has also published other novels not featuring this character, as well as some works of nonfiction. Vargas gives great importance in her texts to the characters, subplots and dialogues. She also highlights in her writing the presence of legends and historical events and the importance of humour and poetry.

She has written the series featuring police chief Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg: L’Homme aux cercles bleus (1991) [The Chalk Circle Man, 2009], L’Homme à l’envers (1999) [Seeking Whom He May Devour, 2004], Pars vite et reviens tard (2001) [Have Mercy on Us All, 2003], Sous les vents de Neptune (2004) [Wash This Blood Clean from My Hand, 2007], Dans les bois éternels (2006) [This Night’s Foul Work, 2008], Un lieu incertain (2008) [An Uncertain Place, 2011], L’Armée furieuse (2011) [The Ghost Riders of Ordebec, 2013), Temps glaciaires (2015) [A Climate of Fear, 2016] and Quand sort la recluse (2017) [This Poison Will Remain, 2019], in addition to the volume of three short novels featuring Adamsberg entitled Coule la Seine (2002) and the series Les Trois Évangélistes [The Three Evangelists]: Debout les morts (1995) [The Three Evangelists, 2006], Un peu plus loin sur la droite (1996) [Dog Will Have His Day, 2014] and Sans feu ni lieu (1997) [The Accordionist, 2017]. Her other novels are: Les Jeux de l’amour et de la mort (1986), L’École du crime (1987, unpublished) and Ceux qui vont mourir te saluent (1994). In collaboration with Boudoin, she has published the comics Les Quatre Fleuves (2000) and Le Marchand d’éponges (2010). She is also the author of the essays Petit traité de toutes vérités sur l’existence (2001), Critique de l’anxiété pure (2003) and La Vérité sur Cesare Battiste (2004). Under her real name, she has published the studies Ossements animaux du Moyen Âge au monastère de la Charité-sur-Loire (1986), Hommes et animaux en Europe: corpus de données archéozoologiques et historiques (1993), Les Chemins de la plage, le rat, the puce et l’homme (2003) and Un aliment sain dans un corps sain: Perspectives historiques (2007). Part of her work has also been adapted for film and television.

Holder of the Prix Landerneau (2015), the International Dagger Award on four occasions, she has also won the Prix Mystère de la critique (1996 and 2000), the Grand Prix for Crime Fiction at the Cognac Festival (1999), the French Bookstore Award and the Trophée 813 for Best Novel in French, among other awards. (Source: Princess of Asturias Awards)

Fred Vargas is one of the contemporary authors that interest me the most actually. This maybe due to the fact that as she says she does not write detective or noir fiction, but puzzles. I just realised it’s been quite a long time since I read one of her books and it is high time for me to read This Poison Will Remain, 2019, her last Adamsberg book. Stay tuned.

image.jpgAfter three elderly men are bitten by spiders, everyone assumes that their deaths are tragic accidents.
But at police headquarters in Paris, Inspector Adamsberg begins to suspect that the case is far more complex than first appears.
It isn’t long before Adamsberg is investigating a series of rumours and allegations that take him to the south of France. Decades ago, at La Miséricorde orphanage, shocking events took place involving the same species of spider: the recluse.
For Adamsberg, these haunting crimes hold the key to proving that the three men were targeted by an ingenious serial killer. His team, however, is not convinced. He must put his reputation on the line to trace the murderer before the death toll rises… (Source: Penguin.co.UK) Translated by Sian Reynolds.

77th Madrid Book Fair

As every year at these dates, Madrid will welcome its Book Fair. The Fair took place for the first time in 1933. Today, the over 350 stalls set up along the Paseo de Coches in Madrid’s Retiro park not only will offer the public the chance to discover the latest literary offerings, but also to meet their favourite writers. Every day, the bookshops and publishing companies organise book-signing sessions featuring the most popular authors. As customary today, the opening day, is raining in Madrid.

Further information at http://www.ferialibromadrid.com/

A good opportunity to buy the last novel by Fred Vargas, recently winner of the Princess of Asturias Award for Literature 2018, Cuando sale la reclusa (Siruela, 2018) translated from the French by Anne-Hélène Suárez Girard, originally titled Quand sort la recluse (2017) [ When the Recluse Comes Out ], Commissaire Adamsberg # 11.

9788417308124_L38_04_lSynopsis (in Spanish): El comisario Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg, tras unas merecidas vacaciones en Islandia, se interesa de inmediato a su regreso a Francia por la muerte de tres ancianos a causa de las picaduras de una Loxosceles rufescens, más conocida como la reclusa: una araña esquiva y venenosa, pero en ningún caso letal. Adamsberg, que parece ser el único intrigado por el extraño suceso, comienza a investigar a espaldas de su equipo, enredándose inadvertidamente en una delicada y compleja trama, llena de elaborados equívocos y profundas conexiones, cuyos hilos se remontan a la Edad Media. Un caso elusivo y contradictorio que se escapa a cada momento de las manos del comisario, haciéndole regresar a la casilla de salida. Solo sus intuiciones, tan preclaras como dolorosas, serán capaces de devolverle la confianza que necesita para salir ileso de la red tendida por la más perfecta tejedora…
Cuando sale la reclusa es sin duda la obra más ambiciosa de Fred Vargas, la reina indiscutible de la novela negra europea. En ella se entrecruzan con maestría todos los temas que han convertido la publicación de cada una de sus novelas en un auténtico acontecimiento literario, tanto para la crítica como para los lectores: el medievo, la arqueología, los mitos, el mundo de los animales y, por supuesto, la descripción detallada y poderosa de los oscuros laberintos del alma humana. (Siruela)

Fred Vargas, Princess of Asturias Award for Literature

French writer Fred Vargas has been granted the 2018 Princess of Asturias Award for Literature, as announced today in Oviedo by the Jury responsible for conferring said Award.

Minutes of the Jury: At its meeting in Oviedo, the Jury for the 2018 Princess of Asturias Award for Literature, composed of Xosé Ballesteros Rey, Blanca Berasátegui, Luis Alberto de Cuenca, Lola Larumbe Doral, Antonio Lucas, Ángeles Mora, Leonardo Padura, Laura Revuelta Sanjurjo, Carmen Riera, Fernando Rodríguez Lafuente, Ana Santos, Sergio Vila-Sanjuán, Juan Villoro, chaired by Darío Villanueva Prieto and with José Luis García Delgado acting as secretary, has decided to confer the 2018 Princess of Asturias Award for Literature on French writer Fred Vargas (Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau). Trained as an archaezoologist, she envisages society as a mysterious and complex ecosystem. What stands out in her narrative work are the originality of her plots, the irony with which she describes the characters, the depth of her cultural insights and her overflowing imagination, which opens up unprecedented literary horizons to readers.

Her writing combines intrigue, action and reflection at a pace that recalls the characteristic musicality of fine French prose. In each of her novels, history emerges as a metaphor of an unsettling present. The vicissitudes of time and the exposure of evil are combined in a solid literary architecture, set against a disquieting backdrop that, for the reader’s enjoyment, is always solved as a logical challenge. For all this, Fred Vargas embodies the renewal of a genre, the thriller, to which she has brilliantly contributed original pieces, atmospheres and settings that make up an oeuvre of universal scope.

18874_2Biography: Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau (Paris, 7th June 1957), known by the pseudonym Fred Vargas, is a French writer, archaeozoologist and medievalist, and author of crime fiction novels. The daughter of writer Philippe Audoin (surrealist, a friend of Breton), has a twin sister, Jo Vargas, who is a painter, while her brother is the historian Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau. She studied for her baccalaureate at the Molière Institute in Paris and earned her PhD in History with a thesis on the plague in the Middle Ages. She has worked as a researcher at the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS, for its acronym in French) and at the Pasteur Institute, and is specialized in archaeozoology. She has also worked at the archaeological excavations in Rue de Lutèce, in front of the Palais de Justice in Paris, and in the monastery of La Charité-sur-Loire.

She wrote her first crime fiction novel, Les Jeux de l’amour et de la mort, in the mid-80s, in parallel with her work at an archaeological excavation in Nièvre, winning first prize at the Cognac Festival with this book. She chose the pseudonym Vargas, as did her twin sister Jo, in homage to María Vargas, the character played by Ava Gardner in The Barefoot Contessa. The main series of novels by Vargas, and the one that has been the most successful, is that of Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg. She has also published other novels not including this character and some works of nonfiction. Vargas gives great importance in her texts to the characters, subplots and dialogues. She also highlights in her writing the presence of legends and historical events and the importance of humour and poetry.

She has written the series featuring police chief Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg: L’Homme aux cercles bleus (1991) [The Chalk Circle Man, 2009], L’Homme à l’envers (1999) [Seeking Whom He May Devour, 2004], Pars vite et reviens tard (2001) [Have Mercy on Us All, 2003], Sous les vents de Neptune (2004) [Wash This Blood Clean from My Hand, 2007], Dans les bois éternels (2006) [This Night’s Foul Work, 2008], A lieu incertain (2008) [An Uncertain Place, 2010], L’Armée furieuse [The Ghost Riders of Ordebec, 2013), Temps glaciaires [A Climate of Fear, 2016] and Quand sort la recluse (2017), in addition to the volume of three short novels featuring Adamsberg entitled Coule la Seine (2002) and the series Les Trois Évangélistes [The Three Evangelists]: Debout les morts (1995) [The Three Evangelists, 2014], A peu plus loin sur la droite (1996) [Dog Will Have His Day, 2014] and Sans feu ni lieu (1997) [The Accordionist, 2017]. Her other novels are: Les Jeux de l’amour et de la mort (1986), L’École du crime(1987, unpublished) and Ceux qui vont mourir te saluent (1994). In collaboration with Boudoin, she has published the comics Les Quatre Fleuves (2000) and Le Marchand d’éponges (2010). She is also the author of the essays Petit traité de toutes vérités sur l’existence (2001), Critique de l’anxiété pure (2003) and La Vérité sur Cesare Battiste (2004). In her real name, she has published the studies Ossements animaux du Moyen Âge au monastère de la Charité-sur-Loire (1986), Hommes et animaux en Europe: corpus de données archéozoologiques et historiques (1993), Les Chemins de la plage, le rat, the puce et l’homme (2003) and Un aliment sain dans un corps sain: Perspectives historiques (2007). Part of her work has also been adapted for film and television.

Holder of the Prix Landerneau (2015), the International Dagger Award on three consecutive occasions, the Prix Mystère de la critique (1996 and 2000), the Grand Prix for Crime Fiction at the Cognac Festival (1999), the French Bookstore Award and the Trophée 813 for Best Novel in French, among other awards.

Previous award-winners

Source: Princess of Asturias Foundation

You can see A Crime is Afoot reviews of Fred Vargas’ books using the blog search option.

Review: Have Mercy on Us All, 2001 (Adamsberg #3) by Ferd Vargas (Tran: David Bellos)

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Vintage, 2004. Format: Paperback. First published in Great Britain in 2003 by The Harvill Press. Originally published in French as Pars vite et reviens tard by Édtions Viviane Hamy, Paris 2001. English translation by David Bellos, 2003. ISBN: 9780099453642. 400 pages.

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707 (8)Synopsis: Three times a day in a Parisian square, a curious modern-day crier announces the news items that are left in his box. Over the course of a few days he receives a number of disturbing and portentous messages of malicious intent, all of them referring to the Black Death. Strange marks have also appeared on the doors of several buildings: symbols once used to ward off the plague. Detective Commissaire Adamsberg begins to sense a connection, even a grotesque menace. Then charred and flea-bitten corpses are found. The press seizes on their plague-like symptoms, and the panic sets in…

My take: Blacklisted from his trade Joss Le Guern, after coming out of prison on charges of attempted manslaughter for losing two men of his crew when his boat sank in the Irish Sea, moved to Paris. Following in his family footsteps, he became a town crier of the modern era. Seven years had passed now since he undertook his new trade. His beginnings were not easy, but finally he found the right spot in the square where Boulevard Edgar-Quinet crosses Rue Delambre. His routine was a simple one. The messages, sealed in envelopes coupled with a five franc coin, were to be deposited in a box installed for that purpose and, later on, he read them out aloud, not before making a selection of those that were not to be read. Unread messages could be withdrawn together with their five-franc fee. One day he received a rather cryptic message that, with different texts, started to be repeated throughout several days. Those messages came to the attention of Hervé Decambrais and, ultimately, they turned out to be passages announcing different outbreaks of bubonic plague. Around the same time, a young woman comes before Commissaire Principal Adamsberg to report that some kind of silly joker had painted all the access doors in the staircase of her block with a strange mark that resembles number four reflected in a mirror. As the story progresses, these events bring back memories of the outbreaks of the Black Death, the plague that spread through a large part of Europe until the early twentieth century, when it was finally believed eradicated. But Adamsberg and his team can do nothing to prevent a burst of panic among the population until the first corpses begun to pile up, 

Among my reading targets of the year, I intend to complete some of the series by my favourite authors. And Fred Vargas is, no doubt, one of them. Paradoxically, I was lacking reading in her Adamsberg’s series, the first book to be translated into English in 2003 by David Bellos, despite the fact of being actually the third one in chronological order. Anyway, Have Mercy on Us All (French: Pars vite et reviens tard, lit. “Go out fast and come back late”) is a 2001 novel by French author Fred Vargas. The action takes place in present-day France and, as usual, Vargas includes elements from the past that get themselves pretty well interlock with the story to the extent of ending up seeming pretty much credible. At the expense of repeating myself, I consider Vargas one of the voices most original and interesting we can find in the current state of detective fiction. Her books always surprise me with new and daring proposals and this novel is no exception. Her unbridled imagination manages to keep my attention at all times and the unexpected denouement has not disappoint me at all. One of her greatest merits, as an author, lies in the fact of having found and developed a universe of her own populated with some characters as unique as Adamsberg and Danglard, among several others. As has already been said in some other review ‘Have Mercy On Us All is a fun, disturbing, quirky, engrossing, charming, fascinating read.’ And I fully subscribe it. 

My rating: A (I loved it)

About the author: Fred Vargas is the pseudonym of the French historian, archaeologist and writer Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau (often mistakenly spelled “Audouin-Rouzeau”). She is the daughter of Philippe Audoin(-Rouzeau), a surrealist writer who was close to André Breton, and the sister of the historian Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau, a noted specialist of the First World War who inspired her the character of Lucien Devernois.
Archeo-zoologist and historian by trade, she undertook a project on the epidemiology of the Black Death and bubonic plague, the result of which was a scientific work published in 2003 and still considered definitive in this research area: Les chemins de la peste : Le rat la puce et l’homme (Pest Roads). As a novelist, Fred Vargas writes mostly crime stories. She found writing was a way to combine her interests and relax from her job as a scientist. Her novels are set in Paris and feature the adventures of Chief Inspector Adamsberg and his team. Her interest in the Middle Ages is manifest in many of her novels, especially through the person of Marc Vandoosler, a young specialist in the period.She separated her public persona as a writer from her scientific persona by adopting the pseudonym Fred Vargas. “Fred” is the diminutive of her given name, Frédérique, while with “Vargas”, she has chosen the same pseudonym than her twin sister, Jo Vargas (pseudonym of Joëlle Audoin-Rouzeau), a painter. For both sisters, the pseudonym “Vargas” derives from the Ava Gardner character in “The Barefoot Contessa”. Her crime fiction policiers have won three International Dagger Awards from the Crime Writers Association, for three successive novels: in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011. In each case her translator into English has been Sîan Leonard, who was also recognized by the international award. (Source: Fantastic Fiction)

To date the complete series of Commissaire Adamsberg books comprises the following titles: L’Homme aux cercles bleus, 1991 (The Chalk Circle Man, 2009); L’Homme à l’envers, 1999 (Seeking Whom He May Devour, 2004); Pars vite et reviens tard, 2001 (Have Mercy on Us All, 2003); Sous les vents de Neptune, 2004 (Wash This Blood Clean from My Hand, 2007); Dans les bois éternels, 2006 (This Night’s Foul Work, 2008); Un lieu incertain, 2008 (An Uncertain Place, 2011); L’Armée furieuse, 2011 (The Ghost Riders of Ordebec, 2013); Temps glaciaires, 2015 (A Climate of Fear, 2016); and more recently Quand sort la recluse, 2017 (literarily When the Recluse Comes Out, the recluses are a genus of venomous spiders).

About the translator: David Bellos was educated at Oxford and teaches French and Comparative Literature at Princeton, where he also directs the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication. He has writen biographies of Georges Perec (1993) and Jacques Tati (1999) that have been translated into many languages, and an introduction to translation studies, Is That A Fish in Your Ear? The Amazing Adventure of Translation (2011). He has translated numerous authors from French (Perec, Vargas, Kadare, Simenon, Antelme, Fournel) and offers a new understanding of the extraordinary life and work of Romain Gary in Romain Gary. A Tall Story (2010). He is currently writing a book about Les Misérables. (Source: Princeton University)

Have Mercy on Us All has been reviewed at The Complete Review, Euro Crime, Words Without Borders, the crime segments, reviewing the evidence, The View from the Blue House,

Penguin UK publicity page

Simon & Schuster publicity page

Viviane Hamy publicity page (French)

Fred Vargas page at Wikipedia

Huye rápido, vete lejos, de Fred Vargas

Sinposis: Tres veces al día, en una plaza parisina, un curioso pregonero moderno anuncia las noticias que le han dejado en su casillero. Durante el curso de unos pocos días recibe una serie de perturbadores y aciagos mensajes con maliciosas intenciones, todos ellos acerca de la Peste Negra. También han aparecido extrañas marcas en las puertas de varios edificios: símbolos utilizados antes para intentar auyentar la plaga. El comisario Adamsberg comienza a sentir cierta relación, incluso una grotesca amenaza. Luego se encuentran cadáveres carbonizados y con picaduras de pulgas. La prensa se aferra a sus síntomas parecidos a los de la peste y el pánico se pone en marcha …

Mi opinión: En la lista negra de su oficio, Joss Le Guern, después de salir de la cárcel acusado de intento de homicidio por perder a dos hombres de su tripulación cuando su barco se hundió en el Mar de Irlanda, se mudó a París. Siguiendo los pasos de su familia, se convirtió en un pregonero de la era moderna. Siete años habían pasado desde que emprendió su nuevo oficio. Sus comienzos no fueron fáciles, pero finalmente encontró el lugar adecuado en la plaza donde el Boulevard Edgar-Quinet cruza Rue Delambre. Su rutina era simple. Los mensajes, sellados en sobres junto con una moneda de cinco francos, debían depositarse en una caja instalada a tal efecto y, más tarde, los leía en voz alta, no sin antes hacer una selección de los que no debían leerse. Los mensajes no leídos podían retirarse junto con su tarifa de cinco francos. Un día recibió un mensaje bastante críptico que, con diferentes textos, comenzó a repetirse a lo largo de varios días. Esos mensajes llamaron la atención de Hervé Decambrais y, finalmente, resultaron ser pasajes que anunciaban diferentes brotes de peste bubónica. Por la misma época, una mujer joven se presenta ante el comisario principal Adamsberg para informar que una especie de bromista había pintado todas las puertas de acceso en la escalera de su bloque con una extraña marca que se asemeja al número cuatro reflejado en un espejo. A medida que avanza la historia, estos eventos nos traen recuerdos de los estallidos de Peste Negra, la plaga que se extendió por gran parte de Europa hasta principios del siglo XX, cuando finalmente se creyó erradicada. Pero Adamsberg y su equipo no pueden hacer nada por evitar una explosión de pánico entre la población hasta que los primeros cadáveres comienzan a acumularse,

Entre mis objetivos de lectura del año, tengo la intención de completar algunas de las series de mis autores favoritos. Y Fred Vargas es, sin duda, uno de ellos. Paradójicamente, me faltaba leer en su serie de Adamsberg, el primer libro que David Bellos tradujo al inglés en 2003, a pesar de que en realidad era el tercero en orden cronológico. De todos modos, Huye rápido, vete lejos (en francés: Pars vite et reviens tard ) es una novela de 2001 de la autora francesas Fred Vargas. La acción tiene lugar en la Francia actual y, como de costumbre, Vargas incluye elementos del pasado que se entrelazan bastante bien con la historia hasta el punto de parecer bastante creíbles. A expensas de repetirme, considero que Vargas es una de las voces más originales e interesantes que podemos encontrar en el estado actual de la novela policíaca. Sus libros siempre me sorprenden con propuestas nuevas y atrevidas, y esta novela no es una excepción. Su imaginación desenfrenada logra mantener mi atención en todo momento y el inesperado desenlace no me ha decepcionado en absoluto. Uno de sus mayores méritos, como autora, radica en el hecho de haber encontrado y desarrollado un universo propio poblado con algunos personajes tan únicos como Adamsberg y Danglard, entre otros. Como ya se ha dicho en otra reseña, “Huye rápido, vete lejos es una lectura divertida, inquietante, peculiar, absorbente, encantadora y fascinante”. Y lo suscribo completamente.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Sobre la autora: Fred Vargas es el seudónimo de la historiadora, arqueóloga y escritora francesa Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau (a menudo erróneamente escrito “Audouin-Rouzeau”). Hija de Philippe Audoin (-Rouzeau), un escritor surrealista cercano a André Breton, y hermana de la historiadora Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau, una renombrada especialista en la Primera Guerra Mundial que la inspiró al personaje de Lucien Devernois.
Arqueozoóloga, e historiadora de profesión, realizó un trabajo sobre la epidemiología de la peste negra y la peste bubónica, cuyo resultado fue un estudio científico publicado en el 2003 y aún considerado definitivo en esta área de investigación: Les chemins de la peste: Le rat la puce et l’homme. Como novelista, Fred Vargas escribe principalmente historias policíacas. Descubrió que escribir era una manera de combinar sus intereses y relajarse de su trabajo como científica. Sus novelas están ambientadas en París y cuentan las aventuras del inspector jefe Adamsberg y su equipo. Su interés por la Edad Media se manifiesta en muchas de sus novelas, especialmente a través de la persona de Marc Vandoosler, un joven especialista en el período. Ella separó su imagen pública como novelista de su imagen científica al adoptar el seudónimo de Fred Vargas. “Fred” es el diminutivo de su nombre de pila, Frédérique, mientras que con “Vargas”, ella ha elegido el mismo seudónimo que su hermana gemela, Jo Vargas (seudónimo de la pintora Joëlle Audoin-Rouzeau). Para ambas, el seudónimo “Vargas” proviene del personaje de Ava Gardner en “La condesa descalza”. Sus roman policiers han obtenido tres International Dagger Awards de la Crime Writers Association en 2006, 2007, 2009 y 2013. En cada caso, su traductora al inglés ha sido Sîan Leonard, quien también fue reconocida por el mencionado galardón internacional.

Hasta la fecha, la serie completa de libros del Comisario Adamsberg comprende los siguientes títulos: L’Homme aux cercles bleus, 1991 (El hombre de los círculos azules, 2007); L’Homme à l’envers, 1999 (El hombre del revés, 2001 y 2011); Pars vite et reviens tard, 2001 (Huye rápido, vete lejos, 2003); Sous les vent de Neptune, 2004 (Bajo los vientos de Neptuno, 2006); Dans les bois éternels, 2006 (La tercera virgen, 2008); Un lieu incertain, 2008 (Un lugar incierto, 2010); L’Armée furieuse, 2011 (El ejército furioso, 2011); Temps glaciaires, 2015 (Tiempos de hielo, 2015); y más recientemente Quand sort la recluse, 2017 (Cuando sale la reclusa, 2018)

Otra reseña en Detectives literarios

Ediciones Siruela página de publicidad

Reseña: Tiempos de hielo (2015), de Fred Vargas (Tra.: Anne-Hélène Suárez Girard)

This post is bilingual, scroll down to find the English language version

Ediciones Siruela, 2015. Colección Nuevos Tiempos 320. Formato: Kindle Tamaño del archivo: 1247 KB. Longitud de impresión: 352 páginas. ASIN: B0151KNFRS. ISBN: 978-84-16465-54-5. Título original Temps glaciaires, 2015. Traducción de Anne-Hélène Suárez Girard, 2015.

9788416465217_L38_04_lSinopsis: Alice Gauthier, una respetable profesora de matemáticas de sesenta y seis años, aparece muerta en su bañera; todo parece apuntar a un suicidio, pero ciertos detalles, como un extraño signo trazado en el lugar del suceso, hacen pensar que quizá haya algo más detrás de su muerte, por lo que el caso es derivado al equipo de la Brigada Criminal del comisario Adamsberg. Al poco, una mujer dice haber enviado una carta que la muerta había escrito a un tal Amadée Masfauré…, cuyo padre se habría suicidado dejando un signo similar. Las sospechas se confirman al comprobar que ambas muertes tenían algo más en común: las dos víctimas formaban parte de una trágica expedición a una remota e inexplorada isla de Islandia, diez años antes…
Un extraño club de admiradores de Robespierre, viejos rencores familiares, pistas falsas, reminiscencias de antiguos mitos nórdicos…, y la imbatible sagacidad de Adamsberg y su brigada son los ingredientes de la magnífica nueva obra de la reina de la novela negra europea.

Mi opinión: El suicidio de una mujer levanta las sospechas de la policía. No hay manera de encontrar la nota habitual que explica los motivos de una decisión tan drástica. La mujer en cuestión, Alice Gauthier, era una profesora jubilada de matemáticas que llevaba una existencia ordenada. Además, en la mañana de su muerte se había lavado el pelo y se había perfumado. Y por la noche, vestida con un traje sastre, llena la bañera, se quita los zapatos y se mete en la bañera completamente vestida para cortarse las venas. Ella estaba a punto de morir, y lo sabía. Su enfermera le había dicho a la policía que cinco días antes trató de depositar una carta en un buzón, sin éxito. Tal vez la carta podría haber explicado su conducta, pero la carta no aparece por ninguna parte. Sólo se sabe que pocos días antes había recibido la visita de un joven desconocido que ha desaparecido. Pero de todos modos, antes de archivar el asunto, la policía del distrito 15 de París, intenta aclarar el significado del signo, dibujado al lado de la bañera. En consecuencia, el Comisario Bourlin decide llamar a Danglard del dictrio 13, famoso por su conocimiento enciclopédico, a fin de intentar averiguar su significado. De esta manera Adamsberg y sus hombres se encontrarán inmersos en una investigación que los conducirá hasta Islandia y los pondrá en contacto con una extraña Asociación, la Asociación de Estudios de los Escritos de Maximiliano Robespierre. ¿Cuál es la relación entre estos eventos tan dispares?

Una vez más Fred Vargas nos sumerge en el mundo particular del comisario Adamsberg y sus hombres. Reconozco que esta serie puede no ser para todos los gustos, pero en mi opinión es una de las series más interesantes y originales en el marco actual de las novelas de detectives. La imaginación desbordante de esta autora nos introduce en un mundo paralelo, un lugar imaginario en el que un inusual gripo de policías opera bajo el mando de Adamsberg. Quizás algunos lectores pueden sentirse molestos por cierta falta de credibilidad, en apariencia. Pero, después de todo, ¿acaso no es verdad que cada novela transcurre por un mundo ficticio? Puedo asegurarles que, al final, todos los elementos son totalmente creíbles y encajan perfectamente sin tener que recurrir a explicaciones sobrenaturales. También me encantan las referencias históricas que Fred Vargas suele introducir en sus novelas. Al final, la estructura de la trama está sólidamente construida, la historia resulta atractiva y, por último pero no por ello menos importante, está muy bien escrita. Si quieren disfrutar de una de las mejores y más originales novelas policíacas que existen hoy en día, les animo a leer esta serie. Dejen correr su imaginación y no duden en aventurarse en el mundo paralelo creado por esta magnífica narradora. Muy recomendable.

Mi valoración: A+ (No se demore, consiga un ejemplar de este libro)

Sobre la autora: Fred Vargas (seudónimo de Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau, París, 1957), arqueóloga de formación, es mundialmente conocida como autora de novelas policiacas; hasta el momento ha escrito doce (todas ellas publicadas por Siruela). Ha ganado los más importantes galardones, incluido el prestigioso International Dagger, que le ha sido concedido en tres ocasiones consecutivas. También ha recibido, entre otros, el Prix mystère de la critique (1996 y 2000), el Gran premio de novela negra del Festival de Cognac (1999), el Trofeo 813 o el Giallo Grinzane (2006). Sus novelas han sido traducidas a múltiples idiomas con un gran éxito de ventas, alguna de ellas incluso se ha llevado al cine.

Entre sus novelas policíacas (“rompol”, abreviatura de roman policier, como a ella le gusta denominarlas), yo destacaría la serie protagonizada por el Comisario Adamsberg, compuesta hasta el momento de escribir estas líneas, por los siguientes títulos: L’Homme aux cercles bleus (1991), título en español: El hombre de los círculos azules, trad. de Helena del Amo, ed. Siruela en 2007; L’Homme à l’envers (1999), título en español: El hombre del revés, trad. de Pilar González, ed. Espasa Calpe en 2001, y trad. de Anne-Hélène Suárez, publicada por Siruela en 2011; Pars vite et reviens tard (2001), título en español: Huye rápido, vete lejos, trad. de Blanca Riestra, ed. Siruela en 2003; Sous les vents de Neptune (2004), título en español: Bajo los vientos de Neptuno, trad. de Aurelio Crespo, ed. Siruela en 2006; Dans les bois éternels (2006), título en español: La tercera virgen (2006), trad. de Anne-Hélène Suárez, ed. Siruela en 2008; Un lieu incertain (2008), título en español: Un lugar incierto, trad. de Anne-Hélène Suárez, ed. Siruela en 2010; L’Armée furieuse (2011), título español: El ejército furioso, trad. de Anne-Hélène Suárez, ed. Siruela en 2011; Temps glaciaires (2015), título español: Tiempos de hielo, trad. de Anne-Hélène Suárez, ed. Siruela en 2015, y la más reciente: Quand sort la recluse (Flammarion, May 2017).

Sobre la traductora: Anne-Hélène Suárez Girard es una sinóloga y traductora española, galardonada con los premios Ángel Crespo y Stendhal de traducción. Entre sus muchos trabajos se encuentran algunas de las obras esenciales del pensamiento chino, como las Analectas y el Daodejing, y las de algunos de los poetas más notables de la dinastía Tang, como Li Bai, Wang Wei o Bai Juyi. Es hija de Gonzalo Suárez.

Ver otras reseñas en Paraffin Test, Prótesis, Elemental, y Un libro al día, entre otros.

Ediciones Siruela página de publicidad

A Climate of Fear, by Fred Vargas

Synopsis: A woman is found dead in her bath. The murder has been disguised as a suicide and a strange symbol is discovered at the scene. Then the symbol is observed near a second victim, who ten years earlier had also taken part in a doomed expedition to Iceland. How are these deaths, and rumours of an Icelandic demon, linked to a secretive local society? And what does the mysterious sign mean? Commissaire Adamsberg is about to find out.

My take: The suicide of a woman raises the suspicions of the police. There is no way to find the usual note that explains the motives for such a drastic decision. The woman in question, Alice Gauthier, was a retired math teacher with an orderly existence. In addition, on the morning of her death she washed her hair and scented herself. At night, dressed in a tailor suit, fills the bathtub, takes off her shoes and gets herself into the bathtub fully clothed to cut herself the veins. She was about to die, and she knew it. Her nurse had told the police that five days earlier she tried to deposit a letter into a mailbox, without success. Perhaps the letter could have explained her behaviour, but the letter is nowhere to be found. It is only known that a few days earlier she had received the visit of an unknown young man who has vanished. But anyway, before shelving the matter, the police of the 15th arrondissement in Paris, try to ascertain the meaning of the sign that was drawn by the side of the bath. Consequently, Police Superintendent Bourlin decides to call Danglard of the 13th arrondissement, famous for his encyclopaedic knowledge, in order to try to figure out its meaning. In this way Adamsberg and his men will find themselves immersed in an investigation that will lead them to Iceland and will put them in contact with a strange Association, the Association of Studies of the Writings of Maximilien Robespierre. What is the relationship between these disparate events?

Once again Fred Vargas plunges us into the particular world of Commissaire Adamsberg and his men. I recognise that this series may not be to everyone’s taste, but in my view it is one of the most interesting and original series in the current framework of detective novels. The overflowing imagination of this author introduces us into a parallel world, an imaginary place in which an unusual police team operates under the command of Adamsberg. Perhaps some readers may feel themselves annoyed by a certain lack of credibility, in appearance. But, after all, isn’t it true that each novel takes place in a fictitious world? I can assure you that, in the end, all the elements are totally credible and fit perfectly well without having to resort to supernatural explanations. I also love the historical references that Fred Vargas usually introduces in her novels. In the end, the structure of the plot is solidly built, the story turns out attractive and, last but not least, is very well written  If you want to enjoy one of the best and most original detective novels that exist nowadays; I would  encourage you to read this series. Let your imagination run away and don’t hesitate to venture into the parallel world created by this magnificent storyteller. Highly recommended.

My rating: A+ (Don’t delay, get your hands on a copy of this book)

About the author: Fred Vargas is the pseudonym of the French historian, archaeologist and writer Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau (often mistakenly spelled “Audouin-Rouzeau”). She is the daughter of Philippe Audoin(-Rouzeau), a surrealist writer who was close to André Breton, and the sister of the historian Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau, a noted specialist of the First World War who inspired her the character of Lucien Devernois. Archeo-zoologist and historian by trade, she undertook a project on the epidemiology of the Black Death and bubonic plague, the result of which was a scientific work published in 2003 and still considered definitive in this research area: Les chemins de la peste : Le rat la puce et l’homme (Pest Roads). As a novelist, Fred Vargas writes mostly crime stories (or rompols, as she likes to call them, an abbreviation for romance policiers). I would highlight the series featuring Commissaire Adamsberg and his men which, up to the time of writing these lines, is comprised by the following titles: L’Homme aux cercles bleus (1991), English title: The Chalk Circle Man (2009), translated by Siân Reynolds; L’Homme à l’envers (1999), English title: Seeking Whom He May Devour (2004), translated by David Bellos; Pars vite et reviens tard (2001), English title: Have Mercy on Us All (2003), translated by David Bellos; Sous les vents de Neptune (2004), English title: Wash This Blood Clean from My Hand (2007), translated by Siân Reynolds; Dans les bois éternels (2006), English title: This Night’s Foul Work (2008), translated by Siân Reynolds; Un lieu incertain (2008), English title: An Uncertain Place (2011), translated by Siân Reynolds; L’Armée furieuse (2011), English title: The Ghost Riders of Ordebec (2013) translated by Siân Reynolds; Temps glaciaires (2015), English title: A Climate of Fear (2016), translated by Siân Reynolds and Quand sort la recluse (Flammarion, May 2017)

A Climate of Fear has been reviewed at Reviewing the evidence, Crime Time, Crime Scraps Review, Crime Fiction Lover, the crime segments,

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Fred Vargas: The Commissaire Adamsberg Series