Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg has been promoted to Commissaire Principal and transferred to the Brigade Criminielle attached to the 13th arrondissement. This means all murder, all the time:
Their job had one name and one name only: murder. Murder ad infinitum, without a broken pane to let the healthy gust of teenage delinquency take you mind off the subject; murder ad aeternam, unrelieved by having to lend a handkerchief to the nice young lady who’d just lost her keys, her address book and a love letter. It would be total immersion in the nightmare of humanity, the killer species.
This has got Adamsberg worrying that he just might become a flic after all, but his trusty number two, Danglard, thinks there is little danger of that happening. While they adjust to their new surroundings, the building is being remodeled and outfitted to make it a true police station. Now Adamsberg has 23 members in his new squad and it’s taking him a whileto get the haang of all their names and proclivities. Famous for being a bit wooly-headed and unorthodox, he finds he has to keep notes on his new charges in order to get them straight in his mind.
The story this time around has a lively and colorful array of characters, from the modern-day town crier, Joss, who plys his trade where Boulevard Edgar-Quinet intersects Rue Delambre. Amongst the usual “for sale”, “wanted”, “lonely hearts” and general neighborhood oddments (including the shipping news), he is getting some disturbing messages. Always with several times the asking price included, printed out on fancy paper by a computer printer. The messages start out just plain wierd, then get more ominous as time goes by. A local retired scholar begins researching these missives and discovers they are all about the advent of the Black Plague. Meanwhile, Adamsberg is alerted to some cryptic figures being painted on front doors of (seemingly) random blocks of flats. He discovers they are an old talisman for safety from the plague and the strange messages being recited in the square take on a more sinister meaning. Then the first body is found. Adamsberg and company have got a case.
This book just flew by for me, I loved the offbeat denizens in the neighborhood of the crier and getting to know, in tiny increments, Adamsbergs new team. Camille is still a small part of the story but soon she disappears, as she is wont to do, leaving Jean-Baptiste with worrisome thoughts about their future. I can’t say I was all that sad to see her go.