The Ghost Riders of Ordebec by Fred Vargas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
From the author's name I never would have guessed "French female writer" but she is. This is seven books in to the Commissiare Adamsberg series so I was a little surprised I'd never heard of her.
The Ghost Riders are an old Norman folk myth which essentially says that if you're seen with them (by someone sensitive to such things) you will die. Adamsberg is drawn to Ordebec because Lina has seen the Ghost Riders and now one of the men she saw has vanished, presumed dead. That he's also in trouble because an arsonist/murderer escaped from his office, having killed a prominent French industrialist, helps him decide to leave Paris for a while; he's helped in this decision by his fondness for Leo, an elderly-but-very-sharp woman he meets and who is later injured. Her former husband is le Comte de Ordebec and it's the Comte who pulls the strings that get Adamsberg to Ordebec to oversee the investigation.
As with many mysteries, there are several things going on: death by bread (don't ask), the arson/murder, the Ghost Riders and their prey, a pigeon, and Adamsberg's recently found 28-year-old son's getting to know you period. They're intertwined here, with the solution to one leading to a hint in another, or simply providing that needed mental break that leads to a solution. Adamsberg is a very hunch-oriented detective, less concerned with procedure and clues than with his sense that something is wrong or right. Overall, not a bad read but not a series I'm going to actively hunt out - perhaps it's the lethargy in Adamsberg or the too-quirky-for-belief team he leads, but something just didn't click for me.
One funny thing that may be fixed by publication: the translator (or perhaps the editor) ran a change/replace for "count". It works really well when we're talking about le Comte de Ordebec, but not so well when someone needs to "comte" on someone.
ARC provided by publisher.