Book Review: The Ghost Riders of Ordebec

Oh happy days! It takes nearly two years for the wonderful English translations of Fred Vargas’s books to reach across the pond, but oh when the latest Commissaire Adamsberg mystery flies across we are at once gently, intelligently and with great sophistication dropped into that world described best by the Commissaire himself:

“Among my officers, I have a hypersomniac who goes to sleep without warning, a zoologist whose speciality is fish, freshwater fish in particular, a woman with bulimia who keeps disappearing in search of food, an old heron who knows a lot of myths and legends, a walking encyclopaedia who drinks white wine non-stop – and the rest to match. Theyy can’t allow themselves to stand on ceremony with me.”

Is it any wonder then that Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg (recently found to be the father of a twenty-eight year old fondly known as Zerk) can readily engage this group of Major Crime officers in a series of murders seemingly cast by a thousand-year old myth? Do the grisly half-decomposed ghost riders in Ordebec commit the crimes for which they are accused? Or rather is the sinister reckoning of this mere village informed by the myth?

As is always the case Vargas packs the plot with arresting personae: in this book they are animals. An abused pigeon, Fleg the ancient dog, butterflies in Brazil and the languid cat that resides on the warm photocopier in the Major Crimes Office in Paris.

    The Ghost Riders of Ordebec

is a No.1 best-seller in both France and Italy; it will add to the plethora of awards garnered by the amazing Fred Vargas.
As with all Fred Vargas novels, this, her seventh goes nicely with a chocolate croissant and foamy cafe-au-lait. It is just that much of a treat. Available through www. Penguin.com it is a Penguin Mystery Original.

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