Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Blog review of The Chalk Circle Man by Fred Vargas

Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg is not like other policemen. His methods appear unorthodox in the extreme: he doesn't search for clues; he ignores obvious suspects and arrests people with cast-iron alibis; he appears permanently distracted. In spite of all this, his colleagues are forced to admit that he is a born cop.

When strange blue chalk circles start appearing overnight on the pavements of Paris, only Adamsberg takes them - and the increasingly bizarre objects found within them - seriously. And when the body of a woman with her throat savagely cut is found in one, only Adamsberg realizes that other murders will soon follow.

Winner of The Crime Writers' Association Duncan Lawrie International Dagger.

Goodreads Rating: 3.67 stars with over 5,300 ratings
Genre Listing: Mystery, Crime, Fiction, French Culture
Get the book: AmazonBook Depository
Goodreads Challenge: 7/30
2018 Reading Challenge: #57 A book that was originally published in a foreign language. The challenge can be found here.

Book Review:

When I originally decided to read this book, I wasn't sure where I was going to put it on my challenge. I found out about halfway through that it was translated from French to English, so it was a perfect fit for #57 on the challenge list. Unfortunately, I think this could have been more of a hindrance for me while reading.

This book was tough for me to get through. It's under 300 pages, and I started it in January. I'm just now finishing it in Mid March. It's not that the book was terrible, the language was just so hard for me to read. The entire flow of the book just seemed to ramble on and on, and I wonder how much of that was the translation. I wonder if I knew how to read French and read the original French version if I would feel the same. Unfortunately, I lost my train of thought while reading this fairly often. I had to frequently go back to other pages to remember what happened.

In addition to the rambling, I didn't feel really any connection to this story. I didn't get any feelings toward who the characters were. I like being invested in the characters I read about, and to me, all of the characters were just page fillers. The main character Jean-Baptiste was especially dull. He was supposed to be odd, and I just didn't really get that from the pages described. In regards to Reyes, there was a lot of eye-rolling directed at the numerous puns about being blind. I did appreciate Mathilde's theory on the week being in sections. Monday- Wednesday being the harder portion of the week, Thursday-Saturday being more leisurely, and Sunday is its own section. Despite my indifference to many of the characters, I did like the random connections between some of them.

I think that like Adamsberg, I was more interested in the chalk circles than the murders. I was hoping there would be some psychological reason behind the objects themselves, but there wasn't, unfortunately. I will say, I was surprised at how the events unfolded. The book did pick up for me a little bit after the first murder, and I was never sure who the murder actually was. Vargas did an excellent job and making it seem like it could be any of the characters discussed. The book tied up all of the loose ends nicely, however, it was mainly just Jean-Baptiste recapping everything in a way that made me feel like he knew it all along. 

For the most part, I enjoyed the book, and I found it interesting. I just had a tough time getting through it. Even once I started to get interested in it I could only do a chapter or so at a time before I needed to put it down. Not sure I'd go out of my way to recommend it, but I can't say I hated it either. 

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