The Accordionist (The Three Evangelists series #3) by Fred Vargas Transl. Siân Reynolds @vintagebooks @HarvillSecker


Book blurb

When two Parisian women are shockingly murdered in their homes, the police suspect young accordionist Clément Vauquer, who was seen outside both of the apartments in question. It seems on the surface like an open-and-shut case.

But now Clément has disappeared from public view. His likeness has appeared in the papers and detectives from Paris to Nevers are on his tail. To have a chance of proving his innocence, he seeks refuge with old Marthe, a former prostitute and the only mother figure he has known.

Marthe calls ex-special investigator Louis Kehlweiler to help Clément. But what Louis uncovers is anything but straightforward, and he must call on some unconventional friends to help him solve his most complex case yet. Not only must Louis try to prove Clément’s innocence, he must solve a fiendish riddle to lead him to the killer…

My thoughts

When two women are murdered the police are sure that Clément Vauquer is their killer. He was after all seen by witnesses at both locations.

When Clément realises he’s a wanted man he goes in search of Marthe a prostitute he knew as a child, the only person who had really cared for him and helped him to live in a world that he found difficult, where he was labelled and bullied because of his learning difficulties.

Marthe takes him in and turns to her old friend Louis Kehlweiler who is an ex-special investigator. Louis is not at all sure that Clément is as innocent as Marthe says but he also feels that the situation Clément finds himself in is too much of a coincidence. Did Clément murder the women or has he been set up? Who would want to see Clément in such trouble? There is more to this Kehlweiler believes. Still, he is also worried about Marthe should Clément be a killer or if the police found she was harbouring a wanted man it could be very dangerous for her. So he calls on his friends Marc, Lucien and Mathias – ‘the evangelists’ – to take Clément in, watch him and help with his investigation.

We follow Kehlweiler’s investigation, helped by the evangelists, were he discovers something of Clément’s past. In particular an incident that happened when he was working as a gardener at a school in Nevers. He helped a woman, Nicole Verdot, who was being raped by three men. Despite his intervention Nicole died in hospital. Kehlweiler pursues this line of enquiry and begins to track down what happened and who the men were.

When one of the evangelists presents him with a theory Kehlweiler is very reticent to accept it. Then there is another murder and Clément is still in the frame for them all!

With the help of a poem, some vital information and some dogged efforts by Kehlweiler and the evangelists they find out what happened and whodunnit.

I very much enjoyed this book which I read for the February meeting of a Virtual Crime book club (see below). I liked the main characters, Marthe and Clément. The story was gentle even though it had both murder and rape within it there were no gratuitous scenes. The setting was a great part of the book. Nevers* was a necessary plot line and interesting to read a little about separately from the book. The main setting of Paris, even though it is many years since I’ve been there, I loved. It was a character all of its own and wonderfully atmospheric.

This is the third of the evangelist trilogy. Even though I have not read the previous two it was very easy to immerse myself in the book. The storyline is a standalone, it is Kehlweiler and the evangelists relationships that have obviously grown together over the three books and this was not at all difficult to understand or follow. Indeed, it felt like the author wrote the characters with fondness and that is the reason why they were so good.

I recommend this book but, unlike me, perhaps start with the first of this trilogy.

Book: Purchased


Nevers is the prefecture of the Nièvre department in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region in central France. It was the principal city of the former province of Nivernais. Situated on the banks of the river Loire it is 260 km south-southeast of Paris. It has a rich heritage which can be seen with its cathedral, ducal palace, churches, Porte du Croux. Visit the earthenware workshops at the famous Noeud Vert. Nevers is also internationally renowned as the burial place of Saint Bernadette, the young peasant girl from Lourdes who witnessed the Apparitions of the Virgin Mary. Visit Nevers for information of what’s on through the year.


Check out Paris to explore what’s on, what’s coming and more!

Virtual Crime Book Club

This month the virtual crime book club, hosted by author Rebecca Bradley, read The Accordionist by Fred Vargas. The meeting took place Monday 6th February 2023.

Below is February’s meeting but beware ⚠️ there may be spoilers so if you are/intend reading The Accordionist by Fred Vargas then view this afterwards.

Our next meeting is Mon, 6th March when we’ll be reading a debut novel. Voting closed Fri, 10th Feb on the five options in this category. You need to be a club member to vote. The book chosen was Blood Sugar by Sascha Rothchild.

To sign up to the book club click HERE | For details on how the book club works, click HERE | View more on Rebecca Bradley’s website »


Published: Harvill Sacker: Hardback (First published by Harvill Secker in 2017) | Vintage Digital; Reprint edition (17 Aug. 2017) | Vintage: Paperback – 16 Aug. 2018 @vintagebooks | First published with the title Sans feu ni lieu in France by Editions Viviane Hamy in 1997

Buy: | Waterstones | (affiliate link) | AmazonSmileUK | Your local indie bookshop | Your local library


SIÂN REYNOLDS is a historian, translator and former professor at the University of Stirling. Born in Cardiff, Siân Reynolds taught at the universities of Sussex and Edinburgh before being appointed to the Chair of French at Stirling (1990-2004). Since taking early retirement, she has acted as consultant for the School, while continuing with research and translation. Her book Marriage and Revolution: Monsieur & Madame Roland (Oxford University Press, 2012) won the R. Gapper Book Prize in 2013. She has translated many books on French history, including most of the works of Fernand Braudel. Recent translations include fiction by Virginie Despentes, Antonin Varenne and French crime novelist, Fred Vargas. Four Vargas translations have been awarded the Crime Writers’ Association International Dagger (2006, 2007, 2009, 2013).

Stirling University Page | French History Society – Spotlight: Professor Siân Reynolds | 6th Douglas Johnson Memorial Lecture in French History – Children of the Revolutionaries: Professor Siân Reynolds


Fred Vargas – Photo: Alexandre Isard / Corbis

Fred Vargas was born in Paris in 1957. A historian and archaeologist by profession, now a bestselling novelist. Her books have sold over 10 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 45 languages.

Fred Vargas’s real name is Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau and she is a historian and archaeologist, a world expert on the Black Death of the Middle Ages. She worked at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), which she joined in 1988. She later joined the Institut Pasteur, as a eukaryotic archaeologist.

She mostly writes police thrillers (policiers). They take place in Paris and feature the adventures of Chief Inspector Adamsberg and his team. Her interest in the Middle Ages is manifest in many of her novels, especially through the person of Marc Vandoosler, a young specialist in the period.

Seeking Whom He May Devour was shortlisted by the British Crime Writers’ Association for the last Gold Dagger award for best crime novel of the year and the following year The Three Evangelists won the inaugural Duncan Lawrie International Dagger. She also won the award for the second year-running with Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand and The Ghost Riders of Ordebec, 2013 saw Vargas win the CWA International Dagger for the third time.

Fred Vargas on Twitter | The Guardian | The CWA – Fred Vargas


The CWA International Dagger (formerly known as the Duncan Lawrie International Dagger) and as of 2019 known as the Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger is an award given by the Crime Writers’ Association for best translated crime novel of the year. The winning author and translator receives an ornamental Dagger at an award ceremony held annually.

Until 2005, translated crime novels were eligible to be nominated for the CWA Gold Dagger. From 2006, translated crime fiction was honored with its own award conceived partly to recognize the contribution of the translator in international works. Until 2008 the International Dagger was named for its sponsor, the Duncan Lawrie Private Bank.

In three of the first four years it was awarded, it was won by Fred Vargas and her translator Siân Reynolds. In 2013, the Dagger was shared for the first time between two novels, Alex by Pierre Lemaitre and The Ghost Riders of Ordebec by Fred Vargas.


The Inspector Adamsberg Series

The Chalk Circle Man | Have Mercy On Us | All Seeking Whom He May Devour | Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand | This Night’s Foul Work | An Uncertain Place | The Ghost Riders of Ordebec | A Climate of Fear | The Poison Will Remain

The Three Evangelists Series

The Three Evangelists | Dog Will Have His Day | The Accordianist


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