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Authors: Fred Vargas

An Uncertain Place

About the Book
 

Commissaire
Adamsberg leaves Paris for a three-day conference in London. Accompanying him are Estalere, a young sergeant, and
Commandant
Danglard, who is terrified at the idea of travelling beneath the Channel. It is a welcome change of scenery, until a macabre and brutal case comes to the attention of their colleague Radstock from New Scotland Yard.

 

Just outside the gates of the baroque Highgate Cemetery a pile of shoes is found. Not so strange in itself, but the shoes contain severed feet. As Scotland Yard’s investigation begins, Adamsberg and his colleagues return home and are confronted with a massacre in a suburban home. Adamsberg and Danglard are drawn in to a trail of vampires and vampire-hunters that leads them all the way to Serbia, a place where the old certainties no longer apply.

 

In Fred Vargas’s riveting new novel,
Commissaire
Adamsberg finds himself in the line of fire as never before.

 
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.

 
ALSO BY
 
Fred Vargas
 
The Chalk Circle Man
 
Have Mercy on Us All
 
Seeking Whom He May Devour
 
The Three Evangelists
 
Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand
 
This Night’s Foul Work
 
Fred Vargas
An Uncertain Place
TRANSLATED
FROM THE FRENCH
BY
Siân Reynolds

This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

 
Version 1.0
 
Epub ISBN 9781446468166
 
www.randomhouse.co.uk
 
Published by Harvill Secker 2011
2 4 6 8 10 9 7 5 3 1
Copyright © Éditions Viviane Hamy, Paris English translation copyright © Siân Reynolds 2011
Fred Vargas has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work
This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser
First published with the title
Un lieu incertain
in 2008 by Éditions Viviane Hamy, Paris
First published in Great Britain in 2011 by
H
ARVILL
S
ECKER
Random House
20 Vauxhall Bridge Road
London SW1V 2SA
www.rbooks.co.uk
Addresses for companies within The Random House Group Limited can be found at:
www.randomhouse.co.uk/offices.htm
The Random House Group Limited Reg. No. 954009
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN 9781846554452
This book is supported by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of the Burgess programme run by the Cultural Department of the French Embassy in London.
www.frenchbooknews.com
Ouvrage publié avec le soutien du Centre national du livre – ministère français chargé de la culture
This book is published with support from the French Ministry of Culture – Centre National du Livre
Contents
 

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Also by Fred Vargas

Title

Copyright

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Chapter VI

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

Chapter X

Chapter XI

Chapter XII

Chapter XIII

Chapter XIV

Chapter XV

Chapter XVI

Chapter XVII

Chapter XVIII

Chapter XIX

Chapter XX

Chapter XXI

Chapter XXII

Chapter XXIII

Chapter XXIV

Chapter XXV

Chapter XXVI

Chapter XXVII

Chapter XXVIII

Chapter XXIX

Chapter XXX

Chapter XXXI

Chapter XXXII

Chapter XXXIII

Chapter XXXIV

Chapter XXXV

Chapter XXXVI

Chapter XXXVII

Chapter XXXVIII

Chapter XXXIX

Chapter XL

Chapter XLI

Chapter XLII

Chapter XLIII

Chapter XLIV

Chapter XLV

Chapter XLVI

Chapter XLVII

Chapter XLVIII

Chapter XLIX

Chapter L

I
 

C
OMMISSAIRE
A
DAMSBERG KNEW HOW TO IRON SHIRTS
. H
IS
mother had shown him how you should flatten the shoulder piece and press down the fabric round the buttons. He unplugged the iron and folded his clothes into his suitcase. Freshly shaved and combed, he was off to London, and there was no way of getting out of it.

He pushed a chair into the patch of sunlight falling on the kitchen floor. Since the room had windows on three sides, he spent his time moving his seat around the circular table, following the light, like a lizard on a rock. He put his bowl of coffee on the east side and sat down with his back to the warmth.

Going to London was fine by him: he would find out whether the Thames smelt of damp washing the way the Seine did, and what kind of sound the seagulls made. Perhaps they had a different call in English. But he would hardly be allowed time for that. Three days of conference, with ten papers per session, six debates, and a reception at the Home Office. There would be a hundred or so top brass, representing police forces from all over Europe, crammed into a big hall; cops from twenty-three countries, seeking to foster closer police links in an expanded Europe and, more precisely, to ‘harmonise the management of migratory flows’. That was the subject of the conference.

As chief of the Serious Crimes Squad in Paris, Adamsberg was obliged to turn up, but he wasn’t greatly concerned. He would be participating in a virtual, hands-off way: first because of his ingrained hostility to any ‘management of flows’, and secondly because he had never been able to remember a word of English. He finished his coffee contentedly, reading a text message from
Commandant
Danglard: ‘
Rdv 80 mins GdNord eurostar gate. Fckin tnnl. Have smart jkt + tie 4 U
’.

Adamsberg pressed ‘delete’, wiping away his deputy’s anxiety like dust from furniture. Danglard was not cut out for walking or running, still less for travelling. Crossing the Channel by tunnel was as distressing for him as flying over it in a plane. But he would not for all the world have given up his place on the mission to anyone else. For thirty years, the
commandant
had been wedded to the elegance of English clothes, on which he banked to make up for his lack of good looks. And from this vital choice he had extended his gratitude to the rest of the United Kingdom, becoming the typical Anglophile Frenchman, addicted to good manners, tact and discreet humour. Except, of course, when he let himself go – revealing the difference between an Anglophile Frenchman and a true Englishman. So the prospect of a trip to London had overjoyed Danglard, migratory flows or not. He just had to get past the obstacle of the
fckin tnnl
: it would be his first experience of it.

Adamsberg rinsed out his coffee bowl, snatched up his suitcase, and wondered what sort of
jkt + tie
Danglard had chosen for him. His elderly neighbour, Lucio, was knocking loudly on the glass door, his weighty fist making it rattle. Lucio had lost his left arm in the Spanish Civil War when he was nine years old, and it seemed that his right arm had grown so large to compensate that it had the strength of two. Pressing his face to the pane, he was summoning Adamsberg by his imperious expression.

‘Come along,’ he said gruffly and peremptorily. ‘She can’t get them out, I need your help.’

Adamsberg stepped outside and put his suitcase down in the unkempt little garden he shared with the old Spaniard.

‘I’m just off to London,’ he said. ‘I’ll give you a hand when I get back, in three days.’

‘Not in thrrrreee days! Now!’ said the old man.

And when Lucio spoke in this tone of voice, rolling his r’s, he produced a great rumbling sound that seemed to Adamsberg as if it was issuing from the very earth. He picked up the suitcase, his mind already on its way to the Eurostar departure lounge at the Gare du Nord.

‘What can’t you get out?’ he said distantly, locking his front door.

‘The cat in the tool shed. You surely knew she was having kittens?’

‘I didn’t even know there was a cat there, and I certainly don’t care.’

‘Well, you know now,
hombre
. And no way will you not care. She’s only managed three so far. One’s dead and two others are still stuck, I can feel their heads. I’ll massage her belly, and you can pull them out. And be careful, gently does it. A kitten, you can break it in half like a biscuit if you’re too clumsy.’

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