At first I was annoyed that this book, the second in the Commissaire Adamsberg series, spent so little time with Jean-Baptiste himself. The character of Camille, Adamsbergs petit cherie, is just a little too freaking quirky for me. A musician, composer and plumber who reads tool catalogues for fun and edification, she currently resides in a small village in the Alpes-Maritimes where she has befriended a local sheep farmer, as well as a handsome Canadian naturalist who is studying the re-introduction of wolves in a national park nearby. The sheep farmers are up in arms as they are losing sheep in increasing numbers, ostensibly at the hands of these wolves. Then the sheep farmer is murdered and rumors abound that it is the work of a werewolf. But the deaths do not end there and soon Jean-Baptiste does appear in an adjunct capacity. Due to the different work and focus of the gendarmerie, which works the villages and countryside as opposed to the Police, there’s a fair amount of political maneuvering for him to be involved. Still, the story focused more on Camille, whom I was finally able to take a meh stance on, rather than outright irritaion.
I liked the peek into the lives, history and myths that are all part of village life in the Alps. Vargas is a historian and archaeologist and she puts her knowledge to good use without being pedantic. As I read this book, the rain and wind beat against my windows but I could feel the bright sun overhead, parched scrub and rocks beneath, wishing I had some of the sharp, green local vin.