This is my review of L’Homme Aux Cercles Bleus by Fred Vargas.
Blue chalk circles begin to appear in the Paris suburbs, each ringing some everyday object. But Commissaire Adamsberg knows it is only a matter of time before a circle contains a murder victim. Unlike his sidekick Danglard, the pragmatic, cynical, stereotypical heavy-drinking inspector deserted by his wife, Adamsberg is not your usual senior police detective. Burdened by his acute intuition, "if only I could be wrong about someone once in a while" , he wanders round with his shirt half hanging out, idles around in coffee shops too depressed to go into work, and is only tolerated by colleagues at his new post in Paris because of his astonishing success record in solving cases.
Some of the characters are entertaining, such as the beautiful Mathilde, a famous marine biologist, only really happy deep-sea diving, who spends her time when on dry ground following and observing strangers. I liked her glass table with a built-in aquarium. However, the main characters are all highly eccentric and somewhat unrealistic. I enjoyed some of the quirky dialogue and was prepared to go with the flow of the off-the-wall plot until it reverted abruptly to the kind of trite, contrived thriller overfull of coincidences with a hero who keeps presenting his bemused colleagues with the next piece in the jigsaw, obtained through his latest light-bulb moment.
I recommend this in French for the practice, and the English version to help with some more obscure language points. Some of the English translation is a little oddly worded partly because the distinctive whimsical quality is hard to capture in English.
Not sure I'll read any more in the series……..