Fred Vargas' France vs. Quebec rivalry?
Among other things, the novel's scariest character other than the killer is a high-level French Canadian police officer portrayed as strict, manipulative, and even a bit sadistic in his psychological toying with suspects. In addition, French Canadian readers might not have been thrilled that a good Quebec officer who helps Adamsberg is rewarded with promotion to be closer to his girlfriend — in predominantly Anglophone Toronto. The novel also offers observations about mutual mistrust between French Canadians and French and about typical French Canadian names that don't occur in France — Ginette, Laliberté and, if I recall correctly, Filibert are three of them. It's all rather gentle stuff, I'd say.
In any case, such intercultural suspicion may be a kind of turnabout from a previous Vargas novel, Seeking Whom He May Devour. In that book, a Canadian naturalist working among wolves in southeastern France is less than impressed with the humans, especially when they begin to suspect a werewolf, rather than a conventional animal, in a series of sheep killings.
"They're saying this time it's not an ordinary animal."© Peter Rozovsky 2007
"A different kind of beast. Bigger. A force of nature, with a monster's jaw. Abnormal, like. In a word, a ghoul."
"Pull the other one."
"That's what they're saying."
Johnstone was stunned. He shook his blond locks.
"Your bloody backward country," he said after a
pause, "is populated by nothing but bird-brained yokels."
French crime fiction