Saturday, May 11, 2019

The Three Evangelists Books by Fred Vargas

French author Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau, who uses the pen name Fred Vargas, has been writing novels since the 1990s, but her work is new to me. During the many, many, many rainy days of April, I worked my way through a series of her books: The Three Evangelists, Dog Will Have His Day, and The Accordionist. I began with The Accordionist, the third book of this particular series, because it was shorted listed for the 2018 CWA International Dagger Award. That recognition from the Crime Writers Association was warranted as The Accordionist was a highly entertaining read.

Like all the books in this series, The Accordionist is set in Paris. Two women are murdered. The police suspect a young man, an accordionist named Clément, who was seen outside their respective apartments prior to the killings. Clément flees to the only person he knows in Paris, old Marthe, who for a time was a mother figure in his turbulent childhood. Marthe, a former prostitute, in turn calls upon her friend for help, ex-special investigator Louis Kehlweiler. And so the investigation begins.

Kehlweiler seeks assistance on the case from three friends, history scholars who share a home. These three are the evangelists first introduced in book one, The Three Evangelists (and which won the 2006 CWA International Dagger Award). Reading these books in order is not absolutely necessary, but it will help make more sense out of The Accordionist  and the relationship between all the characters.

This is an interesting series of mysteries, with The Accordionist being the best of the bunch, in my opinion. The books have somewhat of a gritty atmosphere, the characters are unique and the stories are engaging with unforeseen twists and turns. Perfect reading for rainy days.

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