cover image This Poison Will Remain

This Poison Will Remain

Fred Vargas, trans. from the French by Siân Reynolds. Penguin, $16 trade paper (416p) ISBN 978-0-14-313366-7

In French author Vargas’s brilliantly twisty ninth whodunit featuring eccentric Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg (after 2016’s A Climate of Fear), Adamsberg, who leads the Paris Serious Crimes Squad, makes quick work of a brutal vehicular homicide case to focus on his hunch that foul play was involved in the deaths of three elderly men, each of whom was bitten by a recluse spider. As its name suggests, this type of spider is not aggressive, and its venom is not usually lethal. But an uptick in such fatalities in France have led to panic that the spiders may have mutated or had their toxin’s strength affected by global warming. The expert Adamsberg consults at the Natural History Museum shoots those theories down, and his colleagues are convinced that the age of the victims made them particularly susceptible to venom. The sleuth’s doggedness identifies a link among the dead men, which he pursues. That the members of Adamsberg’s investigative team are distinct individuals adds depth to the sophisticated and rewarding plot. Vargas deserves a wide American readership. [em](Aug.) [/em]