The Chalk Circle Man is the first book featuring Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg, one of the most engaging characters in contemporary detective fiction.
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 highly successful – a born cop.
When strange blue chalk circles start appearing overnight on the pavements of Paris, the press take up the story with amusement and psychiatrists trot out their theories. Adamsberg is alone in thinking this is not a game and far from amusing. He insists on being kept informed of new circles and the increasingly bizarre objects which they contain: a pigeon’s foot, four cigarette lighters, a badge proclaiming ‘I Love Elvis’, a hat, a doll’s head. Adamsberg senses the cruelty that lies behind these seemingly random occurrences. Soon a circle with decidedly less banal contents is discovered: the body of a woman with her throat savagely cut. Adamsberg knows that other murders will follow.
“She wants to surprise, unsettle, frustrate and amuse - and succeeds in writing a gripping novel that takes readers out of their comfort zones”
“A good introduction to this quirky French writer... It is a testimony to both Vargas's skill as a writer and Reynolds's excellent translation that one is swept along by the sheer nouvelle vague-ish inventiveness of the whole thing”
“The novel shows Vargas in riveting form right from the start of her writing career”
“Witty, inventive and vaguely surreal, this novel should win over the most diehard crime fiction fans”
Melissa McClemets, Financial Times
Arminta Wallace, The Irish Times
“It is Vargas's eerie, sensuous portrait of Paris, at once a place of romance and dread, which resonates most hauntingly in this novel”
Dan Sheehan, The Irish Times
“A flavoursome translation, it shows her [Vargas'] dark charm from the off”
Boyd Tonkin, Independent on Sunday
“Rich and witty”