The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

September 23, 2011

The Three Evangelists

Once Sophia had left, no-one knew quite what to do, as they all paced around the big room. Vandoosler senioe preferred to take his meals upstairs. Before leaving the room, he looked at them. The three younger men were standing, oddly enough, each one in front of one of the tall windows, gazing into the dark garden. Standing like that, each framed in an archway, they looked like three statues with their backs to him. St. Luke on the left, St. Matthew in the middle, St. Mark on the right. Each of them turned to stone in his niche. Strange figures and they made strange saints. Marc had crossed his hands behind his back and was standing stiffly, legs apart. Vandoosler had done a lot of stupid things in his life; but he loved his godson. Not that there has ever been a christening.
I found Three Three Evangelists after I fell for Fred Vargas' first Commissaire Adamsberg novel, The Chalk Circle Man, during Paris in July.  The beginning drew me in, but about halfway through (it's not a very long book) I thought it started to drag a little. I've decided to blame that on the rain and my sinuses, because this book has a great set-up, quirky and appealing characters, and {eventually} a very good ending.

The story begins when Sophia, a famous, now retired opera singer, looks out her window one morning to find that someone has planted a tree in the garden of her Paris home. Her social-worker husband isn't interested, assuming that one of her fans has sent it as an anonymous gift.  Sophia decides to ask her new neighbors, three seriously unemployed historians living in the crumbling house next door, to pose as utility workers and dig up the tree to see if there is anything buried underneath it.  These three men -- Marc, Mathias and Lucien {get it?} -- and Marc's Godfather, a disgraced ex-policeman -- become friends with Sophia and Juliette, their neighbor on the other side. Then someone disappears, some other people arrive, two people are murdered, and the four men work with Leguennec, a detective friend of the ex-commissaire, to find out what has happened.

I enjoy the way Ms. Vargas draws her characters, especially the three young men. They are unpublished scholars, focusing on prehistoric man, the middle ages, and the Great War, and their fields of study color their appearance, their idiosyncrasies, their conversation, and even the floors they inhabit in the old house {in historical order, with the uncle in the attic}. It did, I guess, take a long time for anything to really happen, but when it did, it was worth waiting for. This is a stand-alone mystery {though I would love another installment with these men}.

No comments:

Thank you for visiting!

Card Catalog

#6barsets #emma200th #maisie #PalliserParty #Woolfalong A.A. Milne Agatha Christie Alexander McCall Smith Allison Pearson Amy Lowell Angela Thirkell Ann Bridge Anne Perry Anthony Trollope Anticipation Armchair Travels Art Audiobooks Barbara Pym Biography Bloomsbury Bookish things Boston British Library Crime Classics Cambridge Cathleen Schine Charles Dickens Coffee-table books Cookbooks D.E. Stevenson Deborah Crombie Donna Leon Dorothy L. Sayers Dorothy Whipple E.H. Young E.M. Delafield E.M. Forster Edith Wharton Elinor Lipman Elizabeth Gaskell Elizabeth Jenkins Elizabeth Taylor Elizabeth von Arnim Ellizabeth Taylor Emily Dickinson Ernest Hemingway Eudora Welty Fiction Films Food from Books Food Writing Found on a Blog George Eliot Georgette Heyer Helen Ashton Henry James History Homes and Haunts Ideas Imogen Robertson Isabella Stewart Gardner Jacqueline Winspear Jane Austen Joanna Trollope Julia Child Language Laurie Colwin Letters Library Books Literature Louise Andrews Kent Louise Penny M.F.K. Fisher Madame Bovary Madame de Sévigné Madame de Staël Margaret Kennedy Margery Sharp Martha Grimes Mary Shelley Memoirs Miss Read My Year with Edith Mysteries Nathaniel Hawthorne Nonfiction Nook Only Connect P.D. James Paris in July Persephones Plays Poetry Pride and Prejudice 200 Queen Victoria R.I.P. Reading England 2015 Ruth Rendell Sarah Orne Jewett Short Stories Switzerland Sylvia Beach Team Middlemarch The 1924 Club The Brontës the Carlyles The Classics Club Thomas Hardy Virago Virginia Woolf Washington Irving Willa Cather William Maxwell Winifred Peck Winifred Watson