Author: Fred Vargas, 1996. Translated from the French by Sian Reynolds, 2014.
Genre: Crime Fiction. Mystery.
Other Details: Hardback. 244 pages.
How do you solve a murder without a body? Keeping watch under the windows of the Paris flat belonging to a politician's nephew, ex-special investigator Louis Kehlweiler catches sight of something odd on the pavement. A tiny piece of bone. Human bone, in fact. When Kehlweiler takes his find to the nearest police station, he faces ridicule. Obsessed by the fragment, he follows the trail to the tiny Breton fishing village of Port-Nicolas – in search of a dog. But when he recruits ‘evangelists’ Marc and Mathias to help, they find themselves facing even bigger game. - synopsis from UK publisher's website.
While I didn't find this quite as compelling a read as The Three Evangelists, it still bore the hallmarks of Vargas' eccentric crime fiction in terms of characters and plot.
I did wonder how on earth the finding of a human toe bone in a pile of dog poop on a Paris pavement could possibly lead to a murder investigation but the dedication to detail of the lead character (not one of the three historians but a friend of the older uncle) did come through. Of course, by the time Kehlweiler realises there is a bone, rain had washed away the excrement though in the early pages the origin of the bone allows for some humour. However, he has no idea which dog but has his watchers document the habits of dogs being walked and doing their business in that spot. It's a very unusual way of investigating a possible murder. Kehlweiler also quite charmingly has a pet toad named Buffo that he carries in his pocket.
Certainly this novel had a complex plot that by its end proved an intriguing and satisfactory mystery. I did also like the mention of Inspector Adamsberg though placing this 1996 novel in the chronology of her other works this appeared after her 1991 The Chalk Circle Man, which introduced Adamsberg, and before the Adamsberg series took off 1999-2011.