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Vargas, Fred 1957–

Vargas, Fred 1957–

Frédérique Vargas

PERSONAL: Born 1957, in France; children: a son.

ADDRESSES: Home—Paris, France. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Publicity Department, Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, 10020.

CAREER: Writer, archeologist, and historian.

WRITINGS:

Les jeux de l'amour et de la mort (novel; title means "The Games of Love and Death"), La Flèche (Sarthe, France), 1986.

L'homme aux cercle bleus (novel; title means "The Man with Blue Rings"), Hermé (Paris, France), 1991.

Ceux qui vont mourir te saluent (novel; title means "Those Who Are About to Die Salute You,"), V. Hamy (Paris, France), 1994.

Debout les morts (novel), V. Hamy (Paris, France), 1995, translation by Siân Reynolds published as The Three Evangelists, Harvill Secker (London, England), 2006.

Un peu plus loin sur la droite (novel), V. Hamy (Paris, France), 1996.

Sans feu ni lieu (novel; title means "Without Home or Hearth), V. Hamy (Paris, France), 1997.

L'homme à l'envers (novel), V. Hamy (Paris, France), 1999 translation by David Bellos published as Seeking Whom He May Devour, Vintage Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Les quatre fleuves (fiction, also printed in comic form), V. Hamy (Paris, France), 2000.

Pars vite et reviens tard, (novel; title means "Leave Quickly and Return Late"), V. Hamy (Paris, France), 2001, translation by David Bellos published as Have Mercy on Us All, Harvill (London, England), 2003, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2005.

Petit traité de toutes vérités sur l'existence, V. Hamy (Paris, France), 2001.

Coule la Seine, illustrations by Baudoin, V. Hamy (Paris, France), 2002.

Critique de l'anxiété pure, V. Hamy (Paris, France), 2003.

Sous les vents de Neptune, V. Hamy (Paris, France), 2004.

Works have been published in foreign languages, including Spanish, Japanese, Greek, Italian, and German.

ADAPTATIONS: L'homme à l'envers has been adapted for film.

SIDELIGHTS: Fred Vargas researches the Middle Ages for an archeological institute and has written numerous detective novels, mostly while she has been on vacations. In Ceux qui vont mourir te saluent, which means "Those Who Are About to Die Salute You," the author presents a mystery that follows the death of Parisian art editor Henri Valhubert, who has been poisoned after going to Rome to appraise an unknown drawing by Michelangelo. Debout les morts, published unknowin English as The Three Evangelists, focuses on the death of a woman who may be the singer Sophia Simeonides, who has disappeared after a mysterious tree appeared one day to be growing in her garden. On the case are the three evangelists, or historians, Mark, Luke, and Matthew. Writing for the Tangled Web online, a reviewer called The Three Evangelists a "tale of dusty research and police action … [that] makes us eager for more translations of Vargas's work."

Vargas tells the story of an ex-detective named Kehlweiler whose discovery of a bone in dog excrement leads him to investigate a possible murder in Un peu plus loin sur la droite. Kehlweiler, who was also in Debout les morts, returns in Sans feu ni lieu, which means "Without Home or Hearth." Along with his young helper Vandoosler and his assistants, the historians Mark, Luke, and Matthew, Kehlweiler sets out to solve a set of serial murders believed to be committed by a simpleton named Clement Vauquer, who is being sheltered by an ex-prostitute. Writing in the French Review, Davida Brautman noted, "Vargas recounts an ever-intriguing, plausible plot, replete with a sufficient number of interesting suspects, several good red herrings, and a dollop of humor to offset the seriousness of the crimes committed."

Have Mercy on Us All, originally published in French as Pars vite et reviens tard, features the recurring character of Adamsberg, a French policeman who this time is investigating the strange case of a seeming madman whose rants are actually prophesizing a coming plague that threatens Parisians. When three people are found strangled and made to look like victims of the plague, Adamsberg and his partner, Adrien Dang-lard, delve into the matter as the people of Paris panic, believing that a real plague is on the way. Bill Ott, writing in Booklist, called the novel a "beguiling mix of old and new" and noted that the author includes interesting facts about the plague and "a character-rich look at street life." A Publishers Weekly contributor called Have Mercy on Us All "a riveting blend of bio-thriller and historical cryptology," adding that the novel is an "exciting and careful whodunit." A Kirkus Reviews reviewer commented: "Captivating characters, historical oddities and clever plotting all add up to a scintillating tale."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Attack, M., and P. Powrie, editors, Contemporary French Fiction by Women, University of Manchester Press (Manchester, England), 1991.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, December 1, 2005, Bill Ott, review of Have Mercy on Us All, p. 29.

Entertainment Weekly, November 18, 2005, Whitney Pastorek, review of Have Mercy on Us All, p. 143.

French Review, December, 1999, Davida Brautman, review of Sans feu ni lieu, p. 386.

Guardian (London, England), November 18, 2004, "True Crime," interview with author.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2005, review of Have Mercy on Us All, p. 1056.

Library Journal, July 1, 2005, Ann Kim, review of Have Mercy on Us All, p. 58; October 15, 2005, Ronnie H. Terpening, review of Have Mercy on Us All, p. 52.

New Scientist, July 31, 2004, Laura Spinney, "Riddle of Bones," interview with author, p. 46.

Publishers Weekly, October 3, 2005, review of Have Mercy on Us All, p. 49.

ONLINE

Grumpy Old Bookman, http://grumpyoldbookman.blogspot.com/ (January 16, 2006), review of Have Mercy on Us All.

Lire: le magazine littéraire, http://www.auteurs.net/ (March 6, 2006), Christine Ferniot, "Fred Vargas: Je veux travailler sur la peur de l'homme," interview with author.

Tangled Web, http://www.twbooks.co.uk/ (March 6, 2006), review of The Three Evangelists.

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