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An Uncertain Place (Commissaire Adamsberg) [Kindle Edition]

Fred Vargas , Sian Reynolds
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Three-times winner of the CWA International Dagger for Crime Fiction

Commissaire Adamsberg has left Paris for a police conference in London, accompanied by anglophile Commandant Danglard and Estalere, a young sergeant. The city offers a welcome change of scenery until a gruesome discovery is made - just outside the gates of Highgate Cemetery a pile of shoes, all containing severed feet, is found.

Returning to Paris, the three men are then confronted with the violent killing and dismemberment of a wealthy, elderly man. Both the dead man's son and gardener have motives for murder, but soon another candidate for the killing emerges. As Adamsberg investigates the links between these two unsettling crimes, he puts himself at terrible risk.

Editorial Reviews


"One of today's few truly original writers of crime fiction: disturbing, unruly, droll and poetic."
—Marcel Berlins, The Times
"An Uncertain Place is full of wit and invention, with a plot that satisfies both intellect and emotion."
—Annabella Bankhouse, Times Literary Supplement
"As ever, Vargas's characters inhabit a world where reason and myth collide, and the result is a thrilling read."
—Joan Smith, Sunday Times

About the Author

Fred Vargas, historian and archaeologist, is a number-one bestselling author in France, Germany and Italy. She is the author of eight novels featuring Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg, and has won the Crime Writers' Association's International Dagger Award three out of the last five years.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2150 KB
  • Print Length: 418 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (April 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343,487 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very original, sometimes entertaining, but... November 18, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Uncertain Place" is by all reports a major best seller in Europe and is getting good reviews on Amazon. It features a well-established literary character, Commissaire of Paris Police, Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg--a quasi Poirot personality whose crime squad is made up of a collection of very original types.. So, good start for a murder mystery, right? Well, yes, but very early on this promising storyline veers off into the neighborhood of the surreal. The first murder and some other bizarre happenings are laid down to a nest of 18th Century Serbian vampires and/or to the people who believe in and fear these fanged threats. And it was this flirtation with (actually seduction) of such fantasy by supposedly intelligent people in contemporary Paris that left me scratching my head and losing interest in the outcome of the novel. There are other problems in the flow of the story--maybe because of a less than stellar translation? In fact, the whole book moves very close to the edge of farce at several times in the course of the telling.

I would try another Fred Vargas book (she has several published in this series), but I wouldn't strongly recommend this one. Certainly not as an intro to her work.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Weird, witty & wonderful May 22, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My head was spinning from all the mad twists of this novel - but pleasantly spinning, as from a fast waltz. It never ceases to amaze me how Fred Vargas gets me to buy into her wildly weird plots. This, the newest Commissaire Adamsberg mystery, is as terrific as all the others. Maybe the best yet.

Inspector Adamsberg is chief of the Serious Crimes Squad in Paris. He gets results, but no one can fathom how. His thoughts are as aqueous as mist or sea spray. He's more interested in the odd, irrelevant detail than in hard evidence, which he distrusts. His interrogations sometimes put suspects to sleep.

He drifts into bed with women rather too easily.

His staff - despite idiosyncrasies that include narcolepsy, Anglophilia, eating disorders and compulsive drinking - are amazingly effective under his direction.

Adamsberg encounters two bizarre crimes in this book. While at a conference in London, he and his associates happen upon a collection of 17 shoes holding dead feet, abandoned in front of historic Highgate Cemetery. Back in Paris, Adamsberg gets caught up in a grisly murder. The victim, a wealthy misanthrope, has been minutely dismembered and pulverized.

These two seemingly disparate crimes will lead Adamsberg into terrible confusion and mortal danger. He'll be confronted with vampire legends on the one hand, and dark political doings on the other - and some ghosts from his own past. I'm being deliberately vague about the plot (beyond what the publisher reveals) so as not to deprive readers of any of the shocks ahead.

Vargas is a brilliant writer, especially good at creating absurd characters that we can't help but like and outrageous situations that become totally involving.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful; a model of what crime fiction should be July 19, 2011
I read a lot of crime, thriller, and suspense novels. I've read two by Fred Vargas (who's neither male nor Spanish; she's a Frenchwoman) and this one in particular was delightful. The characters are wonderfully cast, with all of their talents and skills and, on the other hand, their foibles, quirks, and eccentricities. You have, for example, the brilliant Danglard and the slow-witted Estalère, but Danglard has imperfections and Estalère shows surprising insight at one point.

There are plot twists that in the hands of a lesser writer would come across as absurd. It's a testament to the quality of "Un Lieu Incertain" that one revels in suspending disbelief as the occasional extremely improbable coincidence takes place.

There's great humor in this novel, as when the main protagonist, Adamsberg, speaks on the phone with an Austrian colleague in the latter's fractured French. Vargas likes to play with language (you'll see how she gives the word "abstract" an entirely new meaning) and she comes up with another word, "Plog," which in her deft care is about as malleable as "appropriate" but, unlike that dismal adjective, delightful for the reader to toy with.

Vargas displays considerable humanity too, as shown by the characters' care for a struggling cat and newborn kitten. Highly recommended. (I read the novel in French and cannot vouch for the translation.)
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously unexpected at every turn November 19, 2011
No one outdoes Fred Vargas in the matter of eccentric characters. Her Inspector Adamsberg, chief of the Serious Crimes Squad in Paris, floats in a cloud of intuitive non-thought through any investigation. His officers are variously afflicted with narcolepsy, Anglophilia, eating disorders and compulsive drinking.

Innocent bystanders and visitants from Adamsberg's past are also acutely peculiar.

Even the crimes in this novel are bizarre. In London seventeen shoes holding dead feet are found in front of historic Highgate Cemetery. In Paris an intensely gruesome crime further rattles the reader - and bemuses Adamsberg. Could they be connected?

Despite the presence in the story of a great variety of people behaving oddly, unaccountably, and (in some cases) fiendishly, I had no trouble going along with the plot. That's how brilliantly Fred Vargas weaves her fictional web. There's always a kind of reality at the bottom of the greatest absurdities. And the writing is invariably exquisite.

"An Uncertain Place" is a perfect title for this weirdly witty book. You'll see why if you read it.

I bought the British paperback, since it came out first. Now I'm re-reviewing the American edition from a different angle, just to reiterate how much I loved it.

I think you could read this latest Adamsberg as a stand-alone, if you're open to a wildly imaginative plot. But for a full appreciation of the inspector, I'd suggest reading the whole series: The Chalk Circle Man; Have Mercy on Us All; Seeking Whom He May Devour; Wash This Blood Clean from My Hands; This Night's Foul Work; and An Uncertain Place.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Vampires??? Had I known, I would never have read it.
Published 1 month ago by Joyce Grygo
5.0 out of 5 stars The Supernatural + Scientific = Brilliant
A captivating and intriguing mystery that dangled the possibility of the fantastical and supernatural and in the end served up a logical and rational, scientific reason for... Read more
Published 5 months ago by WitchyWoman
4.0 out of 5 stars so it is easy to read
quirky detective novel from France with an "American English" translation, so it is easy to read. Just a little odd which makes it more interesting. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars I've just discovered Vargas
This is the third Vargas book I've read and I continue to be enchanted by Adamsberg. Vargas also populates her novels with quirky but plausible characters. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Della chopin
4.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining
Very entertaining. The characters are crazy and strange which makes for a great read. I will read all of his books.
Published 8 months ago by Janis
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story
A great mystery, fun and thrilling, just loved it. Read Vargas latest book first and was glad to understand how Zerk came into his life.
Published 11 months ago by Rolfbaum
4.0 out of 5 stars odd and entrancing
In this novel the commissaire goes to England and to Serbia, and unravels the true history of the vampire hunters. Oh! He helps a cat give birth too!
Published 12 months ago by liz albin
1.0 out of 5 stars Shallow and Unrealistic
I looked forward to reading this as Ms Vargas has picked up quite a following,but was deeply disapointed. Read more
Published 15 months ago by N. C. Cox
2.0 out of 5 stars Who wrote this?
Her other books were fabulous, but this one? Not so much. Disappointing to say the least.
Was almost like someone else wrote it.
Published 16 months ago by Susan Taylor
2.0 out of 5 stars A plot of the most lunatic kind!
This was the second of the Commissaire Adamsberg novels that I have read. This will be the last of the novels that I will read. Read more
Published 16 months ago by karoly trsek
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More About the Author

Fred Vargas was born in Paris in 1957. As well as being a best-selling author in France, she is an historian and archaeologist.

She worked at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), which she joined in 1988. She later joined the Institut Pasteur, as a eukaryotic archaeologist.

She mostly writes police thrillers (policiers). They take place in Paris and feature the adventures of Chief Inspector Adamsberg and his team. Her interest in the Middle Ages is manifest in many of her novels, especially through the person of Marc Vandoosler, a young specialist in the period. Seeking Whom He May Devour was shortlisted by the British Crime Writers' Association for the last Gold Dagger award for best crime novel of the year, and the following year The Three Evangelists won the inaugural Duncan Lawrie International Dagger. She also won the award for the second year-running with Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand.


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