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The Three Evangelists by Fred Vargas
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942309,236 (3.7)63
Member:gaskella
Title:The Three Evangelists
Authors:Fred Vargas
Info:Vintage (2007), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Rating:****1/2
Tags:Fiction, TBR

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The Three Evangelists by Fred Vargas (1995)

  1. 00
    The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill (LongDogMom)
    LongDogMom: Similar feel in style and humour and also a mystery, although set in Loas as opposed to France.
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English (19)  French (6)  Dutch (2)  Italian (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (30)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
A new author (to me). I was pleasantly surprised. Quirky, humourous and enjoyable. Set in 90s Paris, but had the feel of a much earlier period. Mathias, Marc and Lucian are three historians whose characters seem to mirror the periods they specialise in. They are nicknamed the three evangelists by Marc's godfather an ex-detective. They all move into a dilapidated house and have an investigation on their hands when a neighbour goes missing after discovering a tree in her back garden. ( )
  stevebishop | Apr 2, 2016 |
This was published between the first and second Adamsberg novels, and involves a different set of characters (although I believe that there's some overlap later on in the series). Three impoverished historians, Marc, Matthieu and Lucien, share a dilapidated old house with Marc's uncle, a former policeman, and the four of them are drawn into a murder investigation when their neighbour, Sophia, goes missing.

Vargas is well aware of the tension she's set up between the seriousness of the crime and the childish quality of this Enid Blyton arrangement (the "team of amateur investigators" isn't a formula that you often find in adult crime fiction). She has fun playing on the unworldliness of the three unemployed bachelor academics and their tendency to fall for the three main female characters, as well as showing us the odd ways their characters and detective skills have been shaped by the historical periods they specialise in (medieval, prehistoric and First World War, respectively). No doubt she is taking the opportunity to mock some of her own colleagues in the process. Contrasting with the innocence of the "evangelists" is the supremely crafty old ex-Commissaire Vandoosler, who doesn't make any of the big discoveries in the case himself, but is always at least one move ahead of his former sidekick, now the officer in charge of the police investigation.

The murder plot itself is surprisingly conventional: following the archaeological metaphor that keeps cropping up in the story, we have to dig down though a long series of red herrings, but at each level the (presumed) crime is always based on good old-fashioned motives like greed, lust, revenge and backstage rivalry. Nothing really exotic, apart from the enigmatic first clue, a beech tree that inexplicably appears in Sophia's garden one night. ( )
1 vote thorold | Mar 8, 2016 |
This is a pre-Adamsberg Vargas, but it has the hallmarks of the series with Adamsberg: great characters -- and a solution to the mystery that makes sense but seems to come out of the blue. The three evangelists are young men with advanced degrees who are down on their luck and come to live in a house known in the neighborhood as "the disgrace." The uncle of one of them (a disgraced ex-cop), who also lives there, dubs them St. Mark, St. Matthew, and St. Luke, because they are named Marc, Matthias, and Lucien, Their neighbor on one side who is an opera singer who one day notices a tree in her yard that hadn't been there before -- and then disappears. The neighbor on the other side is a woman who owns and runs a restaurant. One day the niece of the opera singer turns up, with her young son, looking for her aunt who was expecting her. It turns out, of course, that the opera singer has been murdered, and the niece promptly becomes a suspect, along with her husband. The three evangelists and the uncle/ex-cop want to exonerate the niece and become involved with the investigation. Then another man is murdered. Many complications ensue, until the mystery is solved. I discovered this pre-Adamsberg mystery through another LTer, who expressed her disappointment that the three evangelists didn't reappear in later mysteries. I warmed to them as the novel went on, but I am an Adamsberg fan, and while I would like to see them reappear, I am happy with Adamsberg.
  rebeccanyc | Feb 10, 2016 |
Hilarious quirky characters and poetic writing :)
I guessed the 2nd red herring way ahead of time but was convinced of its truth.
Love Fred Vargas's work and the translation by Sian Reynolds is natural and beautiful.
Must learn French so I can read the original by Vargas. ( )
  JazMinderr | Jul 31, 2014 |
I absolutely adored this book as I loved the three historians Mathias, Marc and Lucien, the three Evangelists of the title, and Marc’s ex-policeman great uncle as they investigated first the mysterious appearance of a tree in the garden of their neighbour, Sophia Simeonidis and then Sophia’s disappearance, followed by an increasing body count. The various mysteries are intriguing and judiciously placed red herrings ensure that the solution was a surprise to this reader at least. Wonderful. ( )
  riverwillow | May 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fred Vargasprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Balmelli, MauriziaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Botto, MargheritaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Luoma, MarjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reynolds, SianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scheffel, TobiasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
to my brother
First words
"Pierre, there's something wrong with the garden", said Sophia.
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Disambiguation notice
Includes: Sans feu ni lieu, Debout les morts, Un peu plus loin sur la droite
Original title: Debout les morts
Italian translation: Chi è morto alzi la mano
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
The opera singer Sophia Siméonidis wakes up one morning to discover that a tree has appeared overnight in the garden of her Paris house. Intrigued and unnerved, she turns to her neighbors: Vandoosler, an ex-cop, and three impecunious historians, Mathias, Marc and Lucien — the three evangelists. They agree to dig around the tree and see if something has been buried there. They find nothing but soil.

A few weeks later, Sophia disappears and her body is found burned to ashes in a car. Who killed the opera singer? Her husband, her ex-lover, her best friend, her niece? They all seem to have a motive.

Vandoosler and the three evangelists set out to find the truth.

Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0099469553, Paperback)

The opera singer Sophia Simeonidis wakes up one morning to discover that a tree has appeared overnight in the garden of her Paris house. Intrigued and unnerved, she turns to her neighbours: Vandoosler, an ex-cop, and three impecunious historians, Mathias, Marc and Lucien - the three evangelists. They agree to dig around the tree and see if something has been buried there. They find nothing but soil. A few weeks later, Sophia disappears and her body is found burned to ashes in a car. Who killed the opera singer? Her husband, her ex-lover, her best friend, her niece? They all seem to have a motive. Vandoosler and the three evangelists set out to find the truth.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:47 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Sophia wakes up one morning to find that a tree has appeared overnight in the garden of her Paris house. She asks her neighbours to dig around the tree to find out if something has been buried. But they find nothing but soil under the tree. A few weeks later, Sophia disappears. Then her burnt body is found.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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