Browse Authors:

Fred Vargas books in order

Fred Vargas is the pseudonym of French historian, archaeologist and award-winning author Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau.

A gifted author of engrossing mystery and crime fiction tales, Vargas began writing as a way of blending her interests and unwinding from her demanding day job as an academic.

Her hometown of Paris serves as the backdrop for her novels, while her fascination with the Middle Ages is prominently featured in a number of her fiction works, more so in her Three Evangelists Series.

Vargas' novels were all originally published in her native French before being translated into multiple languages, including English.

Her books have won several awards, including three International Dagger Awards from the Crime Writers Association, making her the first author to achieve such a feat with three successive novels.

More about Fred Vargas

Genres: Crime Suspense, Mystery, Suspense

Born: 1957


Pseudonym: Fred Vargas

Commissaire Adamsberg

  1. This Poison Will Remain - Quand sort la recluse (2019)
  2. The Chalk Circle Man - L'Homme aux cercles bleus (1991)
  3. Seeking Whom He May Devour - L'homme à l'envers (1999)
  4. Have Mercy on Us All - Pars vite et reviens tard (2001)
  5. Wash This Blood Clean from My Hand - Sous les vents de Neptune (2007)
  6. This Night's Foul Work - Dans les bois éternels (2008)
  7. An Uncertain Place - Un lieu incertain (2011)
  8. The Ghost Riders of Ordebec - L'armée furieuse (2013)
  9. A Climate of Fear - Temps glaciaires (2016)

Three Evangelists

  1. The Three Evangelists - Debout les morts (2006)
  2. Dog Will Have His Day - Un peu plus loin sur la droite (2014)
  3. The Accordionist - Sans feu ni lieu (2017)

Detailed book overview

Commissaire Adamsberg

This Poison Will Remain

A murder in Paris brings Commissaire Adamsberg out of the Icelandic mists of his previous investigation and unexpectedly into the region of Nîmes, where three old men have died of spider bites. The recluse has a sneaky attack, but is that enough to explain the deaths of these men, all killed by the same venom?

At the National Museum of Natural History, Adamsberg meets a pensioner who tells him that two of the three octogenarians have known each other since childhood, when they lived in a local orphanage called The Mercy. There, they had belonged to a small group of violent young boys known as the "band of recluses." Adamsberg faces two obstacles: the third man killed by the same venom was not part of the "band of recluses", and the amount of spider venom necessary to kill doesn't add up.

Yet after the Nîmes deaths, more members of the old band succumb to recluse bites, leading the commissaire to uncover the tragedy hidden behind the walls of the orphanage.

Author: Fred Vargas
Original Title: Quand sort la recluse
First Release: 2019
ISBN: 978-0143133667
Publisher: Penguin Books
The Chalk Circle Man

When blue chalk circles begin to appear on the pavement in neighborhoods around Paris, Commissaire Adamsberg is alone in thinking that they are far from amusing. As he studies each new circle and the increasingly bizarre objects they contain - empty beer cans, four trombones, a pigeon's foot, a doll's head - he senses the cruelty that lies within whoever is responsible. And when a circle is discovered with decidedly less banal contents - a woman with her throat slashed - Adamsberg knows that this is just the beginning.

Author: Fred Vargas
Original Title: L'Homme aux cercles bleus
First Release: 1991
ISBN: 978-0143115953
Publisher: Penguin Books
Seeking Whom He May Devour

A small mountain community in the French Alps is roused to terror when they awaken each morning to find yet another of their sheep with its throat torn out. One of the villagers thinks it might be a werewolf, and when she's found killed in the same manner, people begin to wonder if she might have been right. Suspicion falls on Massart, a loner living on the edge of town.

The murdered woman's adopted son, one of her shepherds, and her new friend Camille decide to pursue Massart, who has conveniently disappeared. Their ineptness for the task soon becomes painfully obvious, and they summon Commissaire Adamsberg from the city to bring his exceptional powers of intuition to bear on layer upon layer of buried hatred and secrets.

Author: Fred Vargas
Original Title: L'homme à l'envers
First Release: 1999
ISBN: 978-0743284028
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Have Mercy on Us All

In a small Parisian square, the ancient tradition of the town crier continues into modern times. The self-appointed crier, Joss Le Guern, reads out the daily news, snippets of gossip, and lately, ominous messages—placed in his handmade wooden message box by an anonymous source—that warn of an imminent onset of the bubonic plague.

Concerned, Le Guern brings the puzzling notes to the bumbling but brilliant Chief Inspector Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg and his straight-edged, right-hand man, Adrien Danglard. When strange signs that were historically believed to ward off the black death start to appear on the doors of several buildings, Adamsberg takes notice and suspects a connection with Le Guern’s warnings. 

After a flea-bitten corpse with plague-like symptoms is found in one of the marked buildings, Fred Vargas’s inimitable genius chief inspector is under pressure to solve the mystery and restore calm to a panicked Paris. But is it a real case of the bubonic scourge, or just a sinister trick designed to frighten as the body count grows and the culprit continues to elude the police?

Author: Fred Vargas
Original Title: Pars vite et reviens tard
First Release: 2001
ISBN: 978-0743284011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Wash This Blood Clean from My Hand

Three wounds in a perfectly straight line was the bloody signature that marked victims from every corner of France who had been murdered over the course of thirty years. Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg, the chief of police in Paris's 7th Arrondissement, is deeply and personally familiar with the case, and though others were always framed and convicted for these crimes, including his own brother, the Commissaire knows the true identity of the killer—and knows that the murderer died in 1987. All the more disturbing, then, is Adamsberg's discovery one morning of a fresh murder with exactly the same profile...

Author: Fred Vargas
Original Title: Sous les vents de Neptune
First Release: 2007
ISBN: 978-0143112167
Publisher: Penguin Books
This Night's Foul Work

The intuitive Commissaire Adamsberg teams up with Dr. Ariane, a pathologist with whom he crossed paths twenty years ago, to unravel a beguiling mystery that begins with the discovery of two bodies in Paris's Porte de la Chapelle. Adamsberg believes it may be the work of a killer with split personalities, who is choosing his or her victims very carefully. As other murders begin to surface, Adamsberg must move quickly in order to stop the "Angel of Death" from killing again.

Author: Fred Vargas
Original Title: Dans les bois éternels
First Release: 2008
ISBN: 978-0143113591
Publisher: Penguin Books
An Uncertain Place

When Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg, the chief of police in Paris's seventh arrondissement, is called to the scene of a ghastly and highly unusual murder, he thinks it can't have anything to do with the nine pairs of shoes and severed feet discovered outside of London's Highgate Cemetery just a few days earlier. 

With the help of the murdered man's gifted physician, Adamsberg delves into the victim's disturbed psyche and unexpectedly finds himself on a path that takes him deep into the haunted past of Eastern Europe, where a centuries-old horror has come to life and is claiming victims far and wide.

Author: Fred Vargas
Original Title: Un lieu incertain
First Release: 2011
ISBN: 978-0143120049
Publisher: Penguin Books
The Ghost Riders of Ordebec

As the chief of police in Paris’s seventh arrondissement, Commissaire Adamsberg has no jurisdiction in Ordebec. Yet, he cannot ignore a widow’s plea. Her daughter Lina has seen a vision of the Ghost Riders with four nefarious men. According to the thousand-year-old legend, the vision means that the men will soon die a grisly death. When one of them disappears, Adamsberg races to Ordebec, where he becomes entranced by the gorgeous Lina—and embroiled in the small Normandy town’s ancient feud.

Author: Fred Vargas
Original Title: L'armée furieuse
First Release: 2013
ISBN: 978-0143123125
Publisher: Penguin Books
A Climate of Fear

A woman is found murdered in her bathtub, and the murder has been made to look like a suicide. But a strange symbol found at the crime scene leads the local police to call Commissaire Adamsberg and his team.

When the symbol is found near the body of a second disguised suicide, a pattern begins to emerge: both victims were part of a disastrous expedition to Iceland over ten years ago where a group of tourists found themselves trapped on a deserted island for two weeks, surrounded by a thick, impenetrable fog rumored to be summoned by an ancient local demon. 

Two of them didn’t make it back alive. But how are the deaths linked to the secretive Association for the Study of the Writings of Maximilien Robespierre? And what does the mysterious symbol signify?

Author: Fred Vargas
Original Title: Temps glaciaires
First Release: 2016
ISBN: 978-0143109457
Publisher: Penguin Books

Three Evangelists

The Three Evangelists

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.

Author: Fred Vargas
Original Title: Debout les morts
First Release: 2006
ISBN: 978-0099469551
Publisher: Vintage Books
Dog Will Have His Day

Keeping watch under the windows of the Paris flat belonging to a politician's nephew, ex-special investigator Louis Kehlweiler catches sight of something odd on the pavement. A tiny piece of bone. Human bone, in fact. When Kehlweiler takes his find to the nearest police station, he faces ridicule. Obsessed by the fragment, he follows the trail to the tiny Breton fishing village of Port-Nicolas—in search of a dog. But when he recruits "evangelists" Marc and Mathias to help, they find themselves facing even bigger game

Author: Fred Vargas
Original Title: Un peu plus loin sur la droite
First Release: 2014
ISBN: 978-0099589884
Publisher: Vintage
The Accordionist

Louis Kehlweiler of the Three Evangelists trilogy returns, along with his beloved pet toad, Bufo. Vauquer Clement, a young accordionist in his thirties has disappeared, believed by police forces from Nevers to Paris to have killed two women, both shockingly violent murders. But Kehlweiler is not so sure he's guilty. With his team of experts, he must go back and look at all the facts, and see if he can clear Clement's name before it's too late.

Author: Fred Vargas
Original Title: Sans feu ni lieu
First Release: 2017