8 August 2008


Clipper Large print edition 2007. 546 pages.
ISBN 978-1-40740-080-8. Translated from French by Sian Reynolds.

Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg's team from the Paris Serious Crime Squad is due to fly to Quebec for DNA profiling course in Quebec. Adamsberg's second-in-command Danglard, who hates flying, is praying every day that some urgent case will keep the entire squad home. Meanwhile the boiler in the basement of squad headquarters has suddenly stopped working on an October day when the outside temperature has dropped to one degree Celsius.

Adamsberg's mind works in mysterious ways, and a few days prior to the Quebec trip, he experiences an alien feeling of trouble. Something is causing sudden sweats, clenched muscles, and a singing in his ears. He is unsettled by something his subconscious has seen, something his mind can't explain. And then he realises it is an image he has seen of Neptune and his trident. His mind has dredged up memories of an invincible and arrogant killer whom he used to called "The Trident". A killer who always escaped and in fact had derailed Adamsberg's own brother. Adamsberg believes The Trident has been responsible for at least eight murders, all in different regions of France, over a period of about fifty years. Recently a girl has been killed in the countryside, the stab marks of the trident left on her body. But the man whom Adamsberg has known as "The Trident" is dead, so is this a copy cat killer?

Adamsberg is being thrown so out of kilter that he attacks an insolent member of his own squad. This is an unprecedented situation that brings both Adamsberg and the insolent brigadier before a disciplinary tribunal. Adamsberg goes to Quebec with orders not to get into further trouble. But how can he help it when The Trident follows him there, and a young woman is killed, the tell-tale three pronged marks on her body accusing Adamsberg himself of her death?

Sometimes this story became just a little too complex for me. But it is full of wonderful characters. The melancholic Danglard, waiting for promotion himself, loves and hates Adamsberg at the same time. He doesn't like the way Adamsberg has treated his former lover Camille, doesn't usually understand how his boss's mind works, but at the same time he is protective and supportive when he needs to be. The character of the squad's pillar of strength Lieutenant Violette Retancourt is wonderfully developed. And what can I say about the octagenarians Clementine Courbet and her boarder Josette, fallen on hard times? Clementine provides the ear that Adamsberg so badly needs, and Josette is a hacker extraordinaire.

Vargas has the ability to use just a few words to create interesting images. The lives of those in the station are at the mercy of the squatting inert central heating boiler, and the silent mother watching over them all, the coffee machine. And then there are the images of the exploding,smoking, toads - but I'll let you find out about them for yourself.

In the year 2007 WASH THIS BLOOD CLEAN FROM MY HAND won the Duncan Lawrie International Dagger Award.

My rating: 4.7

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin