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Have Mercy on Us All

(Commissaire Adamsberg #4)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  4,678 ratings  ·  406 reviews
The popular Parisian mystery by the international bestselling mystery writer, Fred Vargas, whom the French have hailed as the next Henning Mankell.

In a small Parisian square, the ancient tradition of the town crier continues into modern times. The self-appointed crier, Joss Le Guern, reads out the daily news, snippets of gossip, and lately, ominous messages--placed in his
Paperback, 353 pages
Published November 8th 2005 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2001)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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With every volume that cycle grows on me. And what’s more I just caught myself that I’m reading it not as much for the plot and intrigue as for its protagonists. But I hasten to assure you that the plot is very much okay too. These mysteries can be easily read as standalones but knowing previous tomes you have the opportunity to get to know protagonists and their private affairs better.

Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg as a head of a new murder squad moves with his co-workers, who apart from Danglard and
Jim Coughenour
Jul 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Fred Vargas is the nom de plume of French historian, archeologist and writer Frédérique Audouin-Rouzeau, author of my favorite policiers. Only four of her books have been translated into English so far; it's nice to know I have something to live for.

I have a passion for intricate, existentially-eviscerated crime fiction (especially of the Scandinavian variety), so it's with the fanaticism of the connoisseur that I acclaim Vargas as the best of the very best. These books (I've starred all of
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
What a great find! (Thanks to Hannah for first reviewing, then recommending this book.) I wouldn't have come across this in a month of Sundays, as Fred Vargas isn't as popular on this side of the pond as she seemingly is on t'other side. What a shame.

I loved it from beginning to end and just gobbled it up in the last 24 hours. There is an archaic resonance to it which is particularly pleasing -- not necessarily in the plotline, but in the dialogue and the construction of it. I can't quite put
Roger Brunyate
May 31, 2016 rated it liked it
Overcomplex Mystery in a Magnificent Translation

Fred Vargas is the pseudonym of the French historian, archaeologist and writer Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau. Think Umberto Eco, only younger, French, and female. But definitely an academic with a fascination for language and the ways in which distant history can impinge upon present-day events. In this case, the historical legacy is the Plague, a.k.a the Black Death. It appears that some madman is loose in Paris aiming to spread the disease by means
Jul 04, 2019 rated it liked it
"Why the 18 percent?"
"Because that's how many anxious, gullible and superstitious people live among us. The people who are afraid of an eclipse, who panic at the end of a millennium, who are scared by prophecies and believe that Doom is Nigh … the killer will have the city to himself … "
Medievalist and author Fred Vargas sets the stage for an incomprehensible event: the mass panic and uncontrolled chaos of a release of The Black Death, the Plague, in our era. In the Paris of the new
Halley Sutton
Oct 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Big hmm.
Nov 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller, fiction, crime
A brilliant read. One of the joys of reading crime thrillers is when you come across a fresh new series that you know you will be able to look forward to for a very long time. Fred Vargas delivers a well written intelligent thriller with a interesting hero, strange new characters, a feel for Paris, a fresh plot, red herrings galore and my favourite bit a detective who actually deduces. Maybe none of this sounds exceptional but after wading through mediocore thriller after thriller all with their ...more
Aug 20, 2008 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Ann Swinney
This was a book group book. No, the book group did not read it in French, that was just me adding an extra level of challenge, and as a result it was the Only Book I Read This Summer. But, comparing it occasionally with the English translation, I feel it is fair to say it is a much better book in French. The characters are wonderful and quirky, the writing is gritty and lyrical all at once (the rhythm of the converstions appealed to me). The book group pointed out that a lot of the plot was ...more
Laurence Giliotti
Glad I continued on with the Adamsberg books after being disappointed by the second in the series. Here Vargas returns to the promise offered by her first novel The Chalk Circle Man. Again an interesting premise coupled with a cast of eccentric characters. There are also interesting tidbits from Vargas' extensive knowledge of Medieval history.
Adamsberg is at times a bit annoying. But really, who is not?
I have abandoned my preference for knowing the provenance of all the information Adamsberg
Feb 13, 2017 rated it liked it
A case for newly appointed chief commissaire Adamsberg! And what a start, with the plague back and all... and even The Three Evangelists appear! What a day, what a lovely day...

The good: I am a sucker for character-driven books so Vargas's books are right up my alley. If you are looking for a mystery, this may not be for you, but if you are willing to get lost among quirky, interesting characters, then dive right in.

The bad: Well, that being said, there was a bit too many characters. While it
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Harry Bosch, Harry Hole, and Montalbano
Shelves: bookcrossing, 2012
A fabulous new detective for me, Chief Inspector Adamsberg from Paris. Yes, I'm a police procedural/crime/thriller junkie who is doing her crime around the globe tour in books. This book, and the detective, and the other characters are delicious; it's like making a new discovery. Take your usual flawed detective character, but make him not flawed because of alcohol, and make him French... stir in a few dozens of other delicious characters, all with a French (I guess?) sense of humor, add a ...more
Mar 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, fiction
I really enjoyed this mystery. Vargas does a wonderful job of creating an atmosphere and story well before Adamsberg is involved. The people in the Boulevard Edgar-Quinet are so well-drawn and feel so fully dimensional that one is almost let down when Adamsberg makes his appearance. I just felt like I was ready to move into this neighborhood with its town crier extraordinaire. This tale of murder, deception and a new wave of plague is a compelling and -dare I say - fun read. Given her day job, ...more
Feb 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
Superb police procedural set in Paris and featuring Chief Inspector Adamsberg, blessed with off-kilter handsomeness, a complete lack of sartorial interest, and an innovative system for remembering names.

An odd backwards-4 symbol begins appearing painted on Paris apartment doors, and a neighborhood town crier (with a criminal past) begins receiving mysterious messages about a coming plague. Soon after, strangled, blackened bodies begin to appear behind unmarked doors, and Adamsberg fears that
Apr 07, 2012 marked it as books-i-don-t-quite-seem-to-get
Shelves: crime-mystery
The main character is a sailor from Breton who, presumably, speaks in a Breton dialect. So the translator, genius that he is, decided that the way to translate this is to make him sound like a lower-class british sailor 'heave-ho, on yer arse, mate... oh, lordy, lordy!' from Liverpool (or whatever).

I can't deal with this shit... life's too short. I've lost confidence in ole' Fred.
Feb 16, 2008 marked it as to-read
Fred Vargas, who is a French 'she,' is a popular Detective writer in England and maybe here in the Untited States as well. I just read an interview with her in today's Guradian UK and it got my interest up. She is a daughter of a Surrealist and a Chemist. She is also a Historian and a political activist. It seems like a good combination for a Crime writer.
Oct 10, 2014 rated it liked it
I didn't like this one as much as the first. I'd read more of the series, but with limited interest. One comment on this one is that I couldn't suspend disbelief regarding a 12 year old from the slums of Detroit emigrating to Paris alone!
Mar 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
This wonderful French mystery novel merges the modern and medieval in truly unique and surprising ways.
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Loved the setting and unique premise.
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fred Vargas really is an original! This is the second "Adamsberg" mystery I've read, and it was back at the beginning of the series. In this one Adamsberg is new to his unit, cannot remember anybody's name, and is having personal relationship problems, in the midst of a series of murders whose solution takes a number of twists and turns. I don't like to put any spoilers in my comments, so I won't mention a few things about the revelation of the actual murderer that I thought were a bit forced. ...more
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really loved the intricate plot of this book. The story starts with a former sailor who has found a new way to earn money by resurrecting his great-great-grandfather's occupation as town crier, but in modern-day Paris. The town crier has been surprisingly successful and has a loyal group of listeners. Someone begins submitting mysterious passages for him to read out. Adamsberg, with the help of historians, is able to trace the passages to old texts describing the Black Plague. The author is a ...more
Ominous messages and strange marks on doorways, all believed to be foretelling of the plague, start to appear all over Paris. And then the killings begin. Adamsberg focuses his investigations in Place Edgar Quinet where he believes the cast of suspects are gathered, including a town crier who bellows the news everyday, a scholar keeps house and makes lace secretly, a former prostitute sings at night, a young man refuses to wear proper garments and a barkeeper with Norse ancestry beats on a gong ...more
Nov 14, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a very enjoyable series set in the streets of Paris with a lead detective Commisaire Adamsberg who defies crime writing conventions.
Here a 'town crier' delivers messages in the local square of which are cryptic references to past plagues whilst in apartments across the city doors are marked with a backwards 4. When Adamsberg is notified his curiosity about an apparent non crime is triggered but as head of newly created murder squad it is unclear why he is involved.
The subsequent story is
Ben Lund
Mar 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Quite a good whodunit. Different from the murder mysteries I usually take the time to read, but this was a freebie book from a relative who was offloading a couple of boxes of books. The only thing that really irked me was the way it was solved, what the main character "notices". But everything after that was really well done.
It's a bit slow moving, so if you want a gripping read this is definitely not it, but the characters feel real, with weaknesses and personality quirks. Definitely a very
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fred Vargas gives readers everything a good detective novel should have - and then some. Her characters are interesting, unusual, and flawed but still likeable. The story is entertaining without resorting to grab-the-headlines nonsense or repetitive plot lines. Here is originality, thoughtful use of language and ideas, a bit of history (authentic), a touch of science (ditto) and wonderful insight into the ever-surprising human psyche. This is a series that will not only delight current readers, ...more
Adriano Koehler
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Adamsberg is getting better at each book. Altough #3 was not released in my country (Brazil), there's a logical thread from book one to book four. It's funny to see how the friendship between Adamsberg and Danglard is built, how Adamsberg gets self conscious about his own heterodox methods and how the others perceive them (his notes to remember his own team are delicious!), and, of course, the crime. It's a good time spent reading!
Roger Boyle
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
H got this 2nd hand and gave it to me as the point size was too small for her.

I've always liked Vargas, who seems to survive translation from the French really very well. n fact, her plot lines are decidedly far-fetched (IMHO) but she carries you with her. Overlooking the odd serial killer, her characters are plausible and likeable. She seems very conscious of human frailties.

I read it very quickly, and it won't be my last.
Daniel Shindler
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Another gem by Fred Vargas in her quirky entertaining series. The plot is almost irrelevant.There are twists and turns but the heart of novel is the mind of Adamsberg and his interactions with his team and the off beat characters populating the book.This is the third book in the series and begins to flesh out the personalities and idiosyncrasies of the people on his investigative team.Be prepared for a meandering journey filled with arcane knowledge and many chuckles.
Sue Dix
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the 4th Chief Inspector Adamsberg mystery in the series, and, WOW! These have got to be the oddest mysteries I have ever read, and I love them. It is difficult to give a synopsis, but there is a town crier, disturbing messages, talismans, the plague, toxic siblings, murder, and, yes, all in the 21st century. Adamsberg is his at his quirkiest, most intuitive self, with his difficult relationships with his fellow human beings.
This novel was a pleasure to read. Paris police are drawn into a case that has the entire city terrified that they are confronting a modern day bubonic plague. I savoured the characters who, from words, seamlessly stepped into being. Detective Commissaire Adamsberg is eccentric and yet, in spite of his odd ways, he demonstrates incredible insight when solving a crime. There is a whole neighbourhood filled with wonderful people like the town crier, a tavern owner, a destitute but highly educated ...more
Nov 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
I read this book in French and it is well written with a lot of nautical terminology at the beginning, so I assume the writer is doing serious research when writing her books. We also learn interesting facts about the plague. It is a classic murder/detective story, and if you are into that, I definitively recommend it. Personally, I like it better when it is more psychological, it then gives a certain depth to the characters and the novel.
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Fred Vargas is the pseudonym of the French historian, archaeologist and writer Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau (often mistakenly spelled "Audouin-Rouzeau"). She is the daughter of Philippe Audoin(-Rouzeau), a surrealist writer who was close to André Breton, and the sister of the historian Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau, a noted specialist of the First World War who inspired her the character of Lucien ...more

Other books in the series

Commissaire Adamsberg (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • L'homme aux cercles bleus (Commissaire Adamsberg, #1)
  • Seeking Whom He May Devour (Commissaire Adamsberg, #2)
  • Les quatre fleuves (Commissaire Adamsberg, #3)
  • Coule la Seine (Commissaire Adamsberg, #5)
  • Wash This Blood Clean from My Hand (Commissaire Adamsberg, #6)
  • Dans les bois éternels (Commissaire Adamsberg, #7)
  • Un lieu incertain (Commissaire Adamsberg, #8)
  • The Ghost Riders of Ordebec (Commissaire Adamsberg, #9)
  • Temps glaciaires (Commissaire Adamsberg #10)
  • Quand sort la recluse (Commissaire Adamsberg #11)
“Josh didn't trust inanimates; not one bit; but he didn’t trust men either, nor did he trust the sea. The first could drive you crazy; the second could steal your soul; and the last could take your life.” 2 likes
“–El que dice superstición dice credulidad –continuó Decambrais, lanzado–. El que dice credulidad dice manipulación, y el que dice manipulación dice desastre. Ésa es la plaga que azota a la humanidad, ha producido más muertos que todas las pestes juntas.” 0 likes
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