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Seeking Whom He May Devour [Anglais] [Broché]

Fred Vargas
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Extrait

I


On Tuesday, four sheep were killed at ventebrune in the French Alps. On Thursday, nine were lost at Pierrefort. “It’s the wolves,” a local said. “They’re coming down to eat us all up.” The other man drained his glass, then raised his hand. “A wolf, Pierrot my lad. It’s a wolf. A beast such as you have never clapped eyes on before.

II

Two men were lying prone in the undergrowth.

“You don’t reckon you’re gonna teach me how to do my job, do you?” said one.

“Don’t reckon anything,” said the other. Tall, with long, fair hair. Name of Johnstone. Lawrence Donald Johnstone.

They lay quite still, gripping their binoculars, observing a pair of wolves. It was ten in the morning. The sun was scorching their backs.

“That one is Marcus,” Johnstone said. “He’s come back.”

His companion shook his head. A short, swarthy, rather pig-headed local. He had been keeping watch over the wolves in the Mercantour National Park for six years. Name of Jean Mercier.

“That’s Sibellius,” he muttered.

“Sibellius is much larger. Hasn’t got that yellow tuft at the neck.”

Jean Mercier was needled, so he reset his binoculars, brought the viewfinder once more into focus, and looked closely at the male wolf prowling round his family lair and occasionally sniffing the wind, some three hundred metres to the east of their hide. They were near, much too near, it would be better to pull back, but Johnstone wanted to get one or two good shots at any cost. That’s why he was there – to film wolves. Then he had to go back to Canada with his documentary in the can. But he had been putting off going back for six months, for reasons that were not entirely clear. To tell the truth, the Canadian was rooting in. Mercier knew why. Lawrence Donald Johnstone, celebrated connoisseur of Canadian grizzly bears, had fallen in love with a handful of European wolves. And he could not make up his mind to say so. In any case, the Canadian spoke as few words as he could get away with.

“Came back in the spring,” Johnstone muttered. “Started a family. But I can’t see who the she-wolf is.”

“That’s Proserpine,” whispered Mercier. “Out of Janus and Juno, third generation.”

“Alongside Marcus.”

“Alongside Marcus,” Mercier agreed, after a pause. “And what’s for sure is that there are brand-new cubs.”

“Good.”

“Excellent.”

“How many?”

“Too soon to say.”

Mercier jotted some notes on a pad attached to his belt, took a drink from his gourd, and got back into position without snapping a twig. Johnstone put down his binoculars, wiped the sweat off his face. He pulled over his camera, focused on Marcus and smiled as he switched it on. He had spent fifteen years among the grizzlies, the caribou and the wolves of Canada, wandering alone across the vast preserves to watch, record and film, occasionally stretching out a hand to the oldest of his untamed friends. Not creatures to be taken lightly. There’d been Joan, an old female grizzly, who’d come at him, her head down, to get a good scratch of her coat. And Johnstone had never imagined that Europe – so pinched, so wasted and tamed – could have anything of interest to offer him. He had not taken on this documentary job in the Mercantour Range very gladly. But what was he going to do?

And when it came to the crunch, he’d kept putting off going home, he was dragging out his stay in this neck of the mountain. He was dragging his feet, to be blunt. He was hanging around for the sake of these European wolves with their paltry grey coats, no more than poor panting cousins of those thick-coated, brightly coloured Arctic beasts that deserved all his affection, or so he reckoned.He was hanging around for the sake of the swarming insects, the rivulets of sweat, the charred undergrowth and the crackling heat of the Mediterranean lands. “Just you stick around, you haven’t seen the half of it,” Mercier would tell him rather pompously, with the proud manner of a hard-baked habitué and survivor of solar onslaught. “This is only June.”

And he was hanging around, let’s face it, for Camille.

Round here they called it “rooting in”.

“I don’t hold it against you”, Mercier had said to him, quite seriously, “but it’s better you know: you’re rooting in.”

“OK then, now I know,” Johnstone had replied.

He stopped the camera, put it down gently on his rucksack and shaded it with a white canvas sheet.Young Marcus had gone off out of sight, heading north.

“Gone to hunt before it gets really hot,” Mercier observed.

Johnstone sprinkled water on his face, dampened his hat, took a dozen sips. Good Lord, what a sun. Never known anything so hellish.

“Three cubs at least,” Mercier mumbled.

“I’m being fried alive,” Johnstone said, grimacing as he passed a hand over his shoulder.

“Just you wait. You haven’t seen the half of it.”

III

Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg poured the pasta from the pan into the colander, watched distractedly as the water drained off, then dumped the whole lot on a plate. With grated cheese and tomato sauce, that would do fine for tonight. He’d come home late after interrogating a cretin of a youth for hours on end, until eleven. Adamsberg was slow in any case. He did not like to rush things or people, however cretinous they might be. He especially did not like to rush himself. The television was on with the volume set low, nothing but wars, wars, and more wars.He ferreted about in the cutlery drawer, making all sorts of noise, found a fork, and stood in front of the set.

. . . wolves in the Mercantour National Park have once again gone on the attack in a locality in the department of the Alpes-Maritimes that had up to now been spared. This time, people are talking of an animal of unusual size. Truth or legend? To find out, our special . . .

Adamsberg moved cautiously towards the TV, plate in hand, tiptoeing as if he did not want to frighten the announcer. One false movement from Adamsberg and the guy might fly from the screen without finishing the terrific wolf story he’d just begun. He turned up the sound and stepped back. Adamsberg was fond of wolves, the way you can be fond of your nightmares. His whole childhood in the Pyrenees had been shrouded in old folks’ accounts of the saga of the last wild wolves in France.When he walked the mountain paths in the dark, at the age of nine, when his father sent him out to gather kindling – no arguing, now – he used to think he could see yellow eyes trained on him all along the way. Them eyes, sonny boy, them wolves’ eyes, they burn bright in the night, they do. Bright as a flaming brand.

Nowadays when he went back down to those parts, to his mountain home, he retraced the same paths in the pitch dark. That’s what makes human beings so hopeless, really. They cling to the worst things they’ve known.

He had heard it said – a few years back – that some wolves from the Abruzzi had crossed the Alps into France. Just a gang of tearaways, in a manner of speaking. Boozers on a night out. A friendly raid, a symbolic return, all hail and welcome to you three moth-eaten beasts from the Abruzzi. Ciao, fellas. Since when, he assumed, some guys had been pampering the predators on the sheltered marl of the Mercantour National Park, and the wolves had lunched on fresh lamb from time to time. But he had not seen such pictures before. So were those good lads from the Abruzzi suddenly getting violent? Adamsberg ate his pasta in silence as he watched sequences of dismembered sheep, bloodied soil, the gnarled face of a shepherd, and the stained carcass of one sheep that had been torn to pieces lying on meadow grass. The camera gave morbidly indulgent close-ups of the carnage, and the reporter plied the locals with leading questions, fanning the flames of anger among the country folk. They had edited into the news report shots of snarling wolves’ snouts lifted from old documentaries, more probably about the Balkans than about the Alps. It was enough to make you think that the whole hinterland of Nice was reeling under the onslaught of packs of wild beasts while aged shepherds stood their ground with pride, looking the enemy in the eye. They burn bright in the night, they do, bright as a flaming brand.

But the facts were there. About thirty recorded wolves in the Mercantour, plus maybe a dozen lost cubs, along with feral dogs that were scarcely less threatening. Hundreds of sheep killed last season within a radius of ten kilometres around the Mercantour. These facts weren’t aired in Paris because no-one in Paris gave a damn about stories of wolves and lambs, and Adamsberg was stupefied when he heard the figures. Today’s two savagings in the canton of Auniers had reawakened the conflict.

A vet appeared on screen, pointing in a measured and professional manner at a gaping wound. No, there was not the slightest doubt about it, this is the bite of the upper jaw, fourth premolar on the right-hand side, see, and here, in front, this is the right-hand incisor, look here, and here, and on the underside, here. And do you see how far apart they are? These are the jaws of a very large canine.

“Would you say it was a wolf, doctor?”

“Either that or a very large dog.”

“Or a very big wolf?”

Then another close-up of a defiant shepherd. Since those filthy predators had begun stuffing their bellies four years ago...

Revue de presse

"Commissaire Adamsberg must be the most engaging French detective since Maigret" (Scotland on Sunday)

"Poetic, offbeat and gently addictive. Her prose has an unusual deftness, a wry humour. A unique voice" (Guardian)

"An intriguing, idiosyncratic voice" (Time Out)

"An absolute masterwork. One of the best books of the year" (Toronto Globe & Mail)

"A work of real class - its characters sharp, multi-faceted and original, and its style crisply intelligent" (Herald)

Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 368 pages
  • Editeur : Vintage (3 janvier 2008)
  • Collection : Commissaire Adamsberg
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0099515970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099515975
  • Dimensions du produit: 2,3 x 13,1 x 19,4 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 118.866 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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En savoir plus sur l'auteur

Fred Vargas est née en 1957, il s'agit là de son nom de plume pour l'écriture de romans policiers. Passionnée d'archéologie, pendant toute sa scolarité, elle ne cesse d'effectuer des fouilles. Elle suit des études d'histoire, s'intéresse premièrement à la Préhistoire puis choisit d'orienter son parcourt sur le Moyen-Âge.
Fred Vargas a quasiment créé un genre romanesque : le Rompol. Avec 13 romans à son actif, tous parus aux Éditions Viviane Hamy, elle a été primée à plusieurs reprises notamment pour Pars vite et reviens tard qui se voit récompensé du Grand Prix des Lectrices de ELLE en 2002, du Prix des libraires et du Deutscher Krimipreis (Allemagne). Fred Vargas a su créer des personnages étonnants et attachants. Le plus célèbre des commissaires vargassiens, Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg, et son acolyte, Adrien Danglard, constituent des personnages récurrents des ouvrages de l'auteur. Les livres de Fred Vargas sont traduits dans une quarantaine de pays et sont adaptés au cinéma ou la télévision.

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5.0 étoiles sur 5 A road movie and a book full of twists and turns 29 août 2011
Format:Broché
This is the second of a 9-part series of police procedurals about Paris police commissioner Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg J-BA), who hails from the Pyrenees. In France, regional pride matters and so does rivalry between police and the gendarmerie. Anyone from Paris investigating regional crime faces a degree of hostility and indifference from local law enforcement. But J-BA is a demure, hardly visible 1.71m tall investigator, who shares information, asks lots of questions. He is not pushy or barking orders. And most of his provincial colleagues, aware of his reputation and record, are helpful.
This thriller starts in the French Alps when sheep are found dead, their throats crushed and eaten by what? A pack of wolves (the region has 40 of them, carefully monitored by e.g. the Canadian guest researcher Lawrence), or by a single wolf with huge jaws? When Suzanne, a sheep farmer, is found dead with identical wounds, ancient stories about werewolves re-emerge. All gossip points to a lone male who returned six years earlier after 20 years of absence, who works as a butcher in the region's abattoir. And he is missing. A map is found in his mountain shack with thin crosses confirming with the sites of wolf attacks, and a trail of country roads leading to Manchester, UK, where he is rumored to have a relative. His Great Dane dog, climbing equipment, car and cash are also missing...
How this evolves is for readers to discover. J-BA and his muse Camille also meet again. Good police procedural. Good atmosphere. Nice characters. Nice book. Great series!
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Amazon.com: 3.9 étoiles sur 5  29 commentaires
8 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Quirky and Enjoyable Mystery 21 décembre 2008
Par Lucinda Surber - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Seeking Whom He May Devour (French 1999, English 2004) is set in the French Alps. The villagers at first believe a rogue wolf is responsible for some sheep savagings, but when a woman is killed in the same manner, rumors of a werewolf begin to circulate. Soliman, the woman's young adopted son, Watchee, her ancient head shepherd, and Camille, a young musician recruited to drive the sheep lorry, head out in pursuit of a loner who disappears immediately after the murder. When the trio realize they are in over their heads, Camille contacts her old friend Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg for assistance. The solution of the mystery is clever and unexpected, but the true charm of this book is the eccentric road trip which brings together four vivid and unique personalities: Soliman creates fables to explain reality, Camille reads The A to Z of Tools for Trade and Craft for relaxation, Watchee lives and breathes sheep, and Adamsberg floats in a cloud of intuition, waiting for the facts to settle into an understandable pattern.
[...]
10 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 fantastic French police procedural 6 novembre 2006
Par Harriet Klausner - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
In the Southern Alps-Maritimes section of France, four sheep are killed at Ventebrune; nine at Pierrefort. The locals insist it is the brutal work of a feral pack of wolves led by a gigantic beast like none ever seen before. They believe this beast will turn to devouring humans soon.

At Les Ecart five sheep belonging to Suzanne Rosselin are killed and three others badly wounded. Canadian Lawrence Johnstone works with wolves at the Mercantour National Park; he investigates the sheep killings and knows Suzanne through his live-in lover Camille. Suzanne accuses hermit-like Monsieur Massart of being a werewolf, but she dies when the giant beast attacks her. Johnstone thinks Suzanne was close to the truth, but Massart is not a supernatural creature, but has trained a wolf to do his killings. The local police still believe a large wolf is the culprit while everyone else concurs with the late Suzanne's theory of a werewolf on the prowl. As other people die, Commisaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg begins his inquiry though he is unhappy that his former lover Camille is here with the Canadian. He scans the police reports until he finds a clue that makes him believe he knows exactly what is happening.

SEEKING WHOM HE MAY DEVOUR is a fantastic French police procedural starring an intelligent eccentric commissaire and a delightful support cast though support is a loose term in this superior thriller as Jean-Baptiste enters the fray later than usual for a hero. That will not matter as readers will join the locals debating who or what is the killer, wolves, werewolf, or human predator. Fred Vargas provides a tense gripping tale that readers will fully appreciate from start to finish.

Harriet Klausner
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 One of the best weird Vargas thrillers 29 août 2011
Par P. A. Doornbos - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
This is the second of a 9-part series of police procedurals about Paris police commissioner Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg J-BA), who hails from the Pyrenees. In France, regional pride matters and so does rivalry between police and the gendarmerie. Anyone from Paris investigating regional crime faces a degree of hostility and indifference from local law enforcement. But J-BA is a demure, hardly visible 1.71m tall investigator, who shares information, asks lots of questions. He is not pushy or barking orders. And most of his provincial colleagues, aware of his reputation and record, are helpful.
This thriller starts in the French Alps when sheep are found dead, their throats crushed and eaten by what? A pack of wolves (the region has 40 of them, carefully monitored by e.g. the Canadian guest researcher Lawrence), or by a single wolf with huge jaws? When Suzanne, a sheep farmer, is found dead with identical wounds, ancient stories about werewolves re-emerge. All gossip points to a lone male who returned six years earlier after 20 years of absence, who works as a butcher in the region's abattoir. And he is missing. A map is found in his mountain shack with thin crosses confirming with the sites of wolf attacks, and a trail of country roads leading to Manchester, UK, where he is rumored to have a relative. His Great Dane dog, climbing equipment, car and cash are also missing...
How this evolves is for readers to discover. J-BA and his muse Camille also meet again. Good police procedural. Good atmosphere. Nice characters. Nice book. Great series!
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Join Adamsberg on the hunt for a werewolf in the French Alps 10 mars 2011
Par Cathy G. Cole - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
First Line: On Tuesday, four sheep were killed at Ventebrune in the French Alps.

A small mountain village in the French Alps awakens each morning to the grisly sight of yet more sheep with their throats torn out. A local insists that it's the work of a werewolf, and when she is found killed in the same manner, people begin to wonder if she was right.

Soon an unlikely little group forms of the murdered woman's son, one of her shepherds, and her friend Camille. They've decided that a local eccentric named Massart is the werewolf, and since he's nowhere to be seen, they're going to find his trail and catch him. On their comedy-of-errors road trip, it doesn't take them long to realize that they just don't have what it takes to apprehend a werewolf, and Camille summons Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg to help them. Adamsberg finds that there are many layers of buried secrets for his intuition to unravel.

Adamsberg has been compared to Maigret, and I can't help but chuckle at his choice of venue for deep thinking:

"The Waters of Liffey provided a first-rate solution to his dilemma. The only people in the bar were noisy, boozy Irishmen speaking what was for Adamsberg a completely hermetic tongue. He thought he must be one of the last people left on the planet to know not a single word of English. Such old-fashioned ignorance allowed him to fit happily into the Liffey, where he could enjoy the stream of life without being in any way inconvenienced by it. In this precious hidey-hole Adamsberg spent many an hour dreaming away, peacefully waiting for ideas to rise to the surface if his mind."

The stars of Seeking Whom He May Devour are, without doubt, the wonderful cast of characters and the eerie, creepy atmosphere high in the mountains with few people around. Vargas came close a time or two to getting me to believe in werewolves.

As much as I enjoyed the characters and the atmospheric setting, I did find the plot to be a bit of a letdown. When one of the characters was described, I knew that person was the killer immediately. If I hadn't known this so quickly, I think Vargas would have had the hair standing on the back of my neck. I missed that element of suspense in what was otherwise a very good book.

I happened to read this book in the series out of order, skipping from the first book to the third. Vargas provided just enough backstory to keep me grounded without bogging down the plot.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Intelligent mystery 9 septembre 2008
Par Missa Marmalstein - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Fred Vargas is my favorite new find. She writes intelligently about interesting characters. With the Euro at such crazy rates, I can only afford to go to Europe in books, and this series gives a great sense of France.
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