Book Review: The Three Evangelists by Fred Vargas

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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 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.

I was looking for French crime authors for my #InternationalCrime meme, and I stumbled upon Fred Vargas. Winner of International Dagger Award for three times, she (Fred is shortened from Frédérique) is not just a writer, but also historian and archaeologist. I assumed that I would love her books, and I wasn’t wrong.
The Three Evangelists is her first book which won International Dagger Award and it is written in 1995, translated in English in 2006. The story starts with an opera singer, Sophia Siméonidis, who wakes up one morning just to notice a big tree in her backyard, a tree that wasn’t there the day before. She is a famous person and she considers this as a personal threat from a lunatic fan. The house next door is a home of four extraordinary people. Armand Vandoosler, a former police commissaire, his god-son Marc, Lucien and Matthias. The old Vandoosler names the three young men the three evangelists, Saint-Mark, Saint-Luke and Saint-Matthew. The three evangelists are historians, for different time of history and they are all live in their own world, in the time they study. Sophia asks their help for the tree, they dig it and find nothing. But soon after that, Sophia disappears. Later, her body is found burned in what suppose to be a car accident.
The three young historians with the help of the old former detective are in the search of their neighbour’s killers. Who would think that the knowledge of history can help solving a murder?
Saint-Marc, Saint-Luke and Saint-Matthew are so original characters. Each one of them lives in his own world, each one of them is some kind of knight in shining armour. Some people might consider them lunatic, but they are all very intelligent and perfectly stand on their own feet. Their conversations are even more interesting than the plot itself. Their medieval knowledge is perfectly incorporated in not just the plot itself, but also in their every day fights and talks and their own very unique view of the world.
There are other characters in the story, characters that might be involved in the murder. The husband, the neighbour, the niece, they are all suspects. They all seem like nice people, all of them concerned for Sophia’s death. But nothing can trick the old commissaire’s eye. And with the help of his three house mates, Sophia can finally rest in piece.
It is my very first book of Fred Vargas, but certainly it won’t be the last. I am hooked on her crime noir writing and I’ll be definitely in the search of her other books. And they are so many.
My opinion: 4,5 / 5.

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