Could there POSSIBLY be a more perfect book for Halloween?
I came across mystery writer Fred Vargas’s book, The Ghost Riders of Ordebec, and picked it up mostly due to the mysterious cover art and the rear cover description of the plot. The cover shows four riders on horseback moving through a forest, and they have a faint blurry glow around them.
That got me, and so did the book’s description. The book’s main character is Parisian police commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg (he reminds me of Inspector Lynley, Parisian-style) who receives an office visit from an older woman who is terrified to talk. Adamsberg has an office full of quirky characters, including one who recites quotations at the drop of a hat (I’d enjoy meeting that one).
Adamsberg hears about a thousand-year-old Normandy legend about the Ghost Riders who carry off unpunished evil sinners. The villains later get fatally sick or turn up dead.
Adamsberg decides to go see for himself and visits Ordebec, even though it’s out of his jurisdiction. Along the way, he rescues a maltreated pigeon, helps a firebug who is falsely accused of the murder of an aristocrat, gets to know his son who recently turned up in his life (I have to go find earlier books to find out what happened there), and makes friends with an older woman, Leo. Busy guy.
Things really get going when Leo is attacked and so is one of Adamsberg’s police officers, who gets hit with a tranquilizer and pushed under a train (he makes it — barely). Adamsberg also meets the various members of the Vendermot family, including one character who believes he’s made out of clay and another who can talk backwards.
I’ll leave the rest a mystery since I don’t want to spoil it for you. It’s a marvelous tale and if you like mysteries, it’s definitely worth reading. Enjoy and Happy Halloween! For your viewing pleasure, I’ve included a little Halloween treat below. (Video credit: Hell House of Horror and Walt Disney)