“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.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg, sitting on a rock at the quayside, watched the Grimsey fishermen return with their daily catch, as they moored their boats and hauled up their nets. Here, on this tiny island off the coast of Iceland, people called him simply ‘Berg’. An onshore breeze, temperature 11 degrees, hazy sunshine, and the reek of discarded fish entrails. He had forgotten that, not so long ago, he was a commissaire, the police chief in charge of the twenty- seven officers of the Paris Serious Crimes Squad, based in the 13th arrondissement.
His mobile phone had fallen into some sheep dung, and the ewe had trodden it firmly in with its hoof, no malice intended. That was a novel way to lose your mobile, and Adamsberg had appreciated it as such.
Gunnlaugur, the landlord of the little inn, was just arriving down at the harbour, preparing to choose the best fish for the evening meal.
Adamsberg waved to him with a smile. But Gunnlaugur did not look his usual jovial self. He was heading straight for Adamsberg, ignoring the fish market just getting under way. Frowning under his blond eyebrows, he held out a piece of paper.
‘Fyrir þig,’ he said – with a gesture. For you.
Adamsberg, who was normally incapable of memorising the most basic rudiments of any foreign language, had inexplicably amassed a stock of about seventy words of Icelandic, in just seventeen days.
People spoke to him as simply as possible, with a lot of sign language.
From Paris, the message must be from Paris. And they wanted him back, that must be it. He felt combined sadness and anger and shook his head, refusing to look, turning towards the sea. Gunnlaugur insisted, unfolding the paper and thrusting it into his fingers.
Woman run over. Husband or lover. Not straightforward. Your presence required. Details follow.
Adamsberg looked down, opened his hand and let the paper blow away in the wind. Paris? How could it be from Paris? Where was Paris, anyway?
‘Dau∂ur ma∂ur?’ Gunnlaugur asked. Someone’s died?
‘Ertu a∂ fara, Berg? Ertu a∂ fara?’ So you’re leaving us, Berg? You’re leaving?
Adamsberg drew himself up wearily and looked towards the pale sun.
‘Jú, Berg,’ Gunnlaugur sighed. Yes you are, Berg.
‘Já,’ Adamsberg admitted.
Gunnlaugur shook his shoulder, pulling him along.
‘Drekka bor∂a,’ he said. You must eat, drink.
The shock, as his plane’s wheels touched down on the tarmac at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport, triggered a sudden migraine such as he had not had for years, and at the same time he felt as if he were being battered all over. Back to base, all that aggression, Paris, city of stone. Unless it was the number of glasses downed the night before, at his farewell party at the inn in Iceland. The glasses had been very small. But numerous. And it was his last night. And it had been brennivín.
He gave a furtive glance out of the window. Not to get out. Not to have to go anywhere.
But he was there already. Your presence required.