Thursday, March 23, 2006

#15 - The Three Evangelists

Fred Vargas's The Three Evangelists, part of Vintage Canada's new World of Crime imprint, is a superb little mystery. The second book in my Book A Day challenge, it tells the story of three hapless intellectuals whose neighbour goes missing after a mysterious tree is planted in her Paris garden.

Sophia, a retired opera singer, can't get the tree out of her mind, so she asks the young men, the 'evangelists', Lucien (nicknamed St. Luke), Marc (St. Mark) and Mathias (St. Matthew), to do some digging, literally. They find nothing. But when Sophie disappears two weeks later everyone, including Marc's disgraced ex-policeman godfather, is on the case.

What unfolds is a deceptively simple tale in a classic mystery fashion. The whodunit aspect consistently changes as each one of the historians uses his own methodical thinking to uncover the clues to the case. By the end, I was surprised to find out who the culprit was and sad that the book was finished. Vargas's prose, crisp, clean and with a rich sense of French culture and lifestyle, whips you through the book at breakneck speed. It's the perfect novel for Book A Day reading.

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