Fred Vargas is positively medieval
In Have Mercy ... , a town crier and an impoverished keeper of a boardinghouse team up in the opening chapters to investigate puzzling messages that keep turning up in the letterbox where the crier gathers his news. The two have a testy relationship and, in their contrasting turns of mind and their squabbling, are a kind of humorous echo of the intuitive Adamsberg and his erudite, analytical lieutenant, Danglard.
It's tempting to think that Vargas took that echo-in-miniature idea from the Middle Ages. Medieval painters, sculptors, manuscript illuminators and embroiderers loved to populate their work with marginal figures that fill space, provide decoration, or, as in this example from the Bayeux Tapestry, echo, supplement, or comment on the main action.
None of this is necessary to enjoy Vargas' writing, but it's fun to think about and just might give some insight into her technique.
© Peter Rozovsky 2007
French crime fiction