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Wash This Blood Clean from My Hand (Commissaire Adamsberg, Book 4) Paperback – July 31, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

It gets personal in the third Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg mystery to reach the U.S. Previously, the eccentric commissaire of the French national police has maintained a disconcerting detachment, solving cases "like a lone ranger or a Zen archer who went straight to the target." This time, though, Adamsberg faces his personal demon, a serial killer called the Trident who, 30 years previously, framed the commissaire's brother for a murder, successfully avoiding prosecution for that and numerous other slayings. Supposedly dead for more than 15 years, the Trident has risen from the grave—or so Adamsberg believes after encountering a new victim whose corpse bears the tell-tale signs of the Trident's work. Convincing anyone of this fact is impossible, of course, and—distracted by a trip to Ottawa to attend a forensics course—Adamsberg returns to Paris to find himself well and truly framed for the murder of a young woman. Vargas continues to mix styles effectively, combining the light, comic touch of the best Simenon with much darker themes. This time, too, with the hero forced to look deep into himself, the novel adds an extra pinch of Rendellian psychology to the stewpot. Ott, Bill


Fred Vargas is the hottest property in crime fiction. . . . Poetic, offbeat and genuinely addictive. [Her] prose has an unusual deftness, a wry humour. A unique voice. (The Guardian, London)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1st edition (July 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143112163
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143112167
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #370,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By J. Avellanet VINE VOICE on April 29, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Vargas yet again proves why she is probably the #1 mystery writer in the world with this book, the 3rd of the Commissaire Adamsberg series.

The book takes place in France and in Canada, but much of it explores the genius of a methodical killer who's mind clearly outmatches the protagonist Adamsberg - in fact, in many ways, that's the true brilliance of the book. How many mysteries can you recall where the main investigator was aware of how he simply could not get ahead of the killer no matter what he tried? Where each time the killer struck, the investigator was a day late and a dollar short? Where the clues began to add up, but were completely open to multiple interpretations?

And, as the story goes on, you begin to even distrust some of the Commissaire's colleagues, wondering what's going on - you feel true empathy with Adamsberg, the protagonist. And that is the result of a master writer at work.

Hopefully, as Vargas becomes more recognized in the US, her books will become easier to obtain. For now, the wait is more than worth it.

J. Avellanet, Co-Founder of Cerulean Associates LLC
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Jim Coughenour on March 25, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fred Vargas is in a league of her own when it comes to crafting a book of Continental crime. As attested by my manic list elsewhere, the wealth of crime fiction translated from Europe over the past few years is American readers' good fortune. These books from Scandinavia,Italy, France, Germany have a bracing tone of their own. They are poetry for insomniacs, exercising the mind, bracing the spirit at the end of the day -- with an egg-flip of humor lacing each page. Vargas populates her plots with a cabinet of curiosities, most a bit broken and peculiar but with powerful heart and mind: and her evil villains are so much like her good guys, she keeps you tantalized throughout.

What floats her books far above the rest, however, is that they're saturated with the rich brown jus of historical humanism--so satisfying!-- like a meaty cassoulet that's been simmering all week. Taste and see! These are great books for readers bored by the pulpy gruel of American mysteries, serial killers and mawkish macho detectives.

(And if you haven't read her yet, I'd suggest starting with "Seeking Whom He May Devour" or "The Three Evangelists." It's amusing to watch the characters develop. This book is the 4th translated into English. I hope we don't need to wait another whole year for the next one.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Patto TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 2, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Inspector Adamsberg is up against a monomaniac he's been tracking since he was a kid: a judge from the small Pyrenees village where Adamsberg grew up. The judge killed his brother's girlfriend and framed his brother for the murder.

The inspector is always one step behind the judge, who stages the same crime again and again. The judge uses a trident-like weapon that leaves three identical puncture wounds across the victim's stomach. And in every case he sets up a blacked-out drunk to look like the murderer.

Unfortunately it's not easy for Adamsberg to convince anyone of the judge's diabolical proceedings, and he drops the chase once the man is dead and buried. Sixteen years later, as this book opens, the inspector reads a story about a crime in Alsace that sounds just like the Judge - and he resurrects the hunt.

Adamsberg is almost vanquished by the devilish cleverness of this killer. But an interesting thing happens. The inspector, always a loner, is deluged with advice from other people - and for once he tries listening. He lets others take a leading role, among them an eccentric granny, a fragile old lady hacker and an enormously fat and resourceful woman officer.

Key to the plot is a DNA conference in Quebec that Adamsberg and his team attend. The temperamental differences between French and Canadian officers are quite amusing.

If you haven't read Have Mercy on Us All, you might want to get that along with this book, since a wonderful supporting character appears in both.

I'm deeply impressed by the stylistic brilliance of this author, her quirky sense of humor - and her ability to portray the caprices of the human mind.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Roberts VINE VOICE on May 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First Sentence: Leaning his shoulder against the dark basement wall, Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg stood contemplating the enormous central heating boiler which had suddenly stopped working, two days before.

Comm. Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg and seven of his officers are getting ready for forensics training in Quebec, Canada. A few days before they are to leave, Adamsberg sees a news story about a murder where the victim received three stab wounds to the stomach and the accused has no memory of committing the crime.

A number of similar crimes, including one where Adamberg's brother was accused, occurred 16 years ago. Adamsberg is certain the true killer is back, except that Adamsberg attended the man's funeral. Now in Canada, another murder occurs, but this time it appears Adamsberg is the killer.

The most important element of a book, for me, is the characters. Vargas creates wonderful characters, although she does not provide as much background with each book as a reader coming into the middle of the series should have. However, once you do start to know the players, they become real and characters about whom you want to know more.

What is appealing about Adamsberg is that is he a very unconventional policeman, yet he gets results and has the loyalty of his colleagues and friends. Vargas' voice is wonderfully effective.

Originally written in French, I appreciate that the translation still has a Gallic undertone to the text. Her descriptions are vivid and her phrasing lush. She has an excellent ear for dialogue, and a delightful sense of humor.

The plot is so well done.
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