It’s pretty much the usual setup for this series: Adamsberg is under attack by an unknown assailant; a serial killer is on the loose; the story line staggers towards supernatural thinking, but steps back just in time; there is a mole on the team working against them. Not a bad formula, all in all.

This time it’s vampires; a centuries-old blood feud that, indirectly, involves Adamsberg; and blackmail from high up in the French security apparatus. Adamsberg, as usual, has good instincts and refuses the red herrings that are strewn on his path, going so far as to let a fake suspect get away. In the end, after a harrowing near death experience, there is a showdown with the deranged criminal mastermind, and Adamsberg wins out (and I hope this isn’t a spoiler: you rather know from the beginning in these novels that he will, in the end, win out).

Though I enjoy reading this series, I’ve never quite warmed up to it. The characters are interesting enough, but a bit overdrawn - slightly one dimensional. Danglard can be counted on to have deep knowledge of subjects large and small - about everything, in fact, except the intricacies of his boss’ character. Froissy (sorry - don’t have the book in front of me, so I may be misspelling her name) can be counted on to, well, be counted on: stout as an oak tree, loyal as a shepherd’s dog, and infinitely resourceful. And Adamsberg is quirky, distracted, and relentlessly driven. With none of the characters do you get the idea that they have anything really resembling a life outside of their work, or that they have ordinary human foibles or contradictions. Unlike, say, Brunetti or Montalbano, you don’t feel as if Adamsberg inhabits the same world that we do.

Or not. It might be that I’m simply distracted by the intrusion of supernatural beliefs in these novels. As I suggested above, the supernaturalness is always an illusion, a mere suggestion, but it permeates the stories until near the end when all is revealed. So with that distraction maybe I’m just not seeing the depth of character that I would like.

No matter: I’ll keep reading these as long as Fred Vargas keeps writing them.



Book cover

Metadata Info

  • Title: An Uncertain Place (Commissaire Adamsberg, #8)
  • Author: Fred Vargas
  • Published: 2001
  • ISBN: 1846554454
  • Buy: Amazon search
  • Check out: Seattle library
  • Rating: 3.0 stars