Fred. This Night's Foul Work: A Commissaire Adamsberg Mystery. Penguin. Jun. 2008. 416p. tr. from French by Siân Reynolds. ISBN 978-0-14-311359-1.
pap. $14.00. Mystery.
From Wash This Blood Clean from My Hands, two-time International Dagger Award winner Vargas adds to her usual quirky cast of characters in Paris's Serious Crime Squad: a rookie detective, Lt. Louis Veyrenck, out to get Commissaire Adamsberg for a childhood attack in which the commissaire played a leading role. Veyrenc works with Adamsberg to solve an unusual murder in which the killer, according to forensic pathologist Ariane Lagarde, is quickly identified as being an elderly nurse/recent prison escapee who is seeking the ingredients to a potion for eternal life described in a book of relics. Before the commissaire unmasks the real killer (whose identity will shock readers), he will encounter grave diggers, ghostly apparitions, a cat able to track down a missing cop, a vicious animal killer, and other strange creatures. Though Vargas describes the potion's recipe in obfuscatory language, perspicacious readers will figure out significant elements long before Adamsberg and his squad do. Still, the literary touches, the bizarre turns, and the intriguing characters will please Vargas's fans. Recommended. [Fred Vargas is the pseudonym of Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau; this is her fourth Commissaire Adamsberg mystery to be published in the United States.—Ed.]