Have Mercy on Us All
Have Mercy on Us All
Simon & Schuster, Paperback, 9780743284011, 353pp.
Publication Date: November 8, 2005
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 handmade wooden message box by an anonymous source that warn of an imminent onset of the bubonic plague.
Concerned, Le Guern brings the puzzling notes to the bumbling but brilliant Chief Inspector Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg and his straight-edged, right-hand man, Adrien Danglard. When strange signs that were historically believed to ward off the black death start to appear on the doors of several buildings, Adamsberg takes notice and suspects a connection with Le Guern's warnings. After a flea-bitten corpse with plague-like symptoms is found in one of the marked buildings, Fred Vargas's inimitable genius chief inspector is under pressure to solve the mystery and restore calm to a panicked Paris. But is it a real case of the bubonic scourge, or just a sinister trick designed to frighten as the body count grows and the culprit continues to elude the police?
Peopled with charming and eccentric Gallic characters, and packed with gripping historical detail, "Have Mercy on Us All" is a complex, surprising, and stylish tale from France's finest mystery writer.
David Bellos is the director of the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication at Princeton University, where he is also a professor of French and comparative literature. He has won many awards for his translations of Georges Perec, Ismail Kadare, and others, including the Man Booker International Translator s Award. He also received the Prix Goncourt for "George Perec: A Life in Words". He is the author of the book "Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything".
"Fred Vargas knows Paris and knows her history -- she uses both to create this terrifying thriller with plague, panic, and a police detective extraordinaire."
-- Ed McBain, author of Hark!