Commissaire Adamsberg investigates the death of three men linked by their childhood at an orphanage in Nimes, all killed by the venom of the recluse spider, in the new novel by the #1 bestselling French crime writer
“A wildly imaginative series.”—The New York Times
“Adamsberg is a terrific creation and his team of misfits a joy to watch in action.”—Peter Robinson, New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Banks series
A murder in Paris brings Commissaire Adamsberg out of the Icelandic mists of his previous investigation and unexpectedly into the region of Nîmes, where three old men have died of spider bites. The recluse has a sneaky attack, but is that enough to explain the deaths of these men, all killed by the same venom?
At the National Museum of Natural History, Adamsberg meets a pensioner who tells him that two of the three octogenarians have known each other since childhood, when they lived in a local orphanage called The Mercy. There, they had belonged to a small group of violent young boys known as the "band of recluses." Adamsberg faces two obstacles: the third man killed by the same venom was not part of the "band of recluses", and the amount of spider venom necessary to kill doesn't add up.
Yet after the Nîmes deaths, more members of the old band succumb to recluse bites, leading the commissaire to uncover the tragedy hidden behind the walls of the orphanage.
In French author Vargas's brilliantly twisty ninth whodunit featuring eccentric Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg (after 2016's A Climate of Fear), Adamsberg, who leads the Paris Serious Crimes Squad, makes quick work of a brutal vehicular homicide case to focus on his hunch that foul play was involved in the deaths of three elderly men, each of whom was bitten by a recluse spider. As its name suggests, this type of spider is not aggressive, and its venom is not usually lethal. But an uptick in such fatalities in France have led to panic that the spiders may have mutated or had their toxin's strength affected by global warming. The expert Adamsberg consults at the Natural History Museum shoots those theories down, and his colleagues are convinced that the age of the victims made them particularly susceptible to venom. The sleuth's doggedness identifies a link among the dead men, which he pursues. That the members of Adamsberg's investigative team are distinct individuals adds depth to the sophisticated and rewarding plot. Vargas deserves a wide American readership.