2 August 2013

Review: THE GHOST RIDERS OF ORDEBEC, Fred Vargas

  • published: Hardback: 368 pages (Mar. 2013) Publisher: Harvill Secker ISBN: 1846557364
  • Kindle version available Amazon
  • #8 in the Commissaire Adamsberg series
  • translated by Sian Reynolds.
Synopsis

'People will die,' says the panic-stricken woman outside police headquarters. She has been standing in blazing sunshine for more than an hour, and refuses to speak to anyone besides Commissaire Adamsberg. Her daughter has seen a vision: ghostly horsemen who target the most nefarious characters in Normandy. Since the middle ages there have been stories of murderers, rapists, those with serious crimes on their conscience, meeting a grizzly end following a visitation by the riders.

Soon after the young woman's vision a notoriously cruel man disappears, and the local police dismiss the matter as superstition. Although the case is far outside his jurisdiction, Adamsberg agrees to investigate the strange happenings in a village terrorised by wild rumours and ancient feuds.

My Take

THE GHOST RIDERS OF ORDEBEC was recently named the joint winner of the 2013 CWA International Dagger.
The other novel to share the award was ALEX by Paul Lemaitre.
This is the 4th time that Fred Vargas has won the International Dagger.

The judges of the award said
    “for all the differences between these brilliant novels, they share—among their other qualities—an original and absorbing ability to leash incredulity in the name of the fictional contract between author and reader. 
    From the strange presuppositions of their opening pages, these stylish writers – one newly translated, the other long established, give us crime novels with superb plotting, interesting actors old and new, good dialogue in the service of characterisation, leavened by humour (sometimes of the gallows), and always an ability to upset our preconceptions. 
    From the sometimes outlandish imagination which is Fred Vargas to the painfully explicit, but never gratuitous, violence of Pierre Lemaitre, these novels demonstrate the variety and quality of international crime writing.”
I think what struck me about THE GHOST RIDERS is Vargas' "outlandish imagination" - the story begins with a visitation of riders from hell, who point to deaths that will take place soon in a remote Normandy village. Here the author has begun with a grisly legend, and then jumped into a modern day murder or two.

Do people really believe in these hellhounds? Adamsberg is pretty sure he doesn't but others in his team are not sure whether they do or not.

Adamsberg goes off to Normandy and his team in Paris continue to investigate a case where an elderly industrialist has been burnt to death in his car. The culprit seems obvious but Adamsberg is convinced it is out of character for the young man.

This tale is totally captivating. I have this image of Vargas in times gone by, holding an audience spellbound around a camp fire, telling a story that makes you look over your shoulder. The story twists and turns towards its conclusion.

My Rating: 5.0

See another review on Euro Crime.

Other reviews of Vargas titles on this blog
SEEKING WHOM HE MAY DEVOUR
THE CHALK CIRCLE MAN
THIS NIGHT'S FOUL WORK
WASH THIS BLOOD CLEAN FROM MY HAND
4.8, AN UNCERTAIN PLACE

2 comments:

Kathy D. said...

I agree with you on "Ordebec" and I also rated it a 5.0.

Everything about this book was enjoyable -- the Medieval folklore, eccentric police detectives, zany family, Zeck, Mo, the pigeon, Flek, Leo, the reappearing doctor -- and, of course, Normandy.

I missed this book after I finished it.

One of my year's top reads.

vicki (skiourophile) said...

I'm looking forward to reading this even more now, Kerrie - I love her books for their completely mad quirkiness, and this sounds like another gem.

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