Fred Vargas is the pseudonym of the French historian, archaeologist and writer Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau (born 1957 in Paris). Her crime fiction policiers have won three International Dagger Awards from the Crime Writers Association, for three successive novels: in 2006, 2008 and 2009. She is the first author to achieve such an honor. In each case her translator into English has been Sîan Reynolds, who was also recognized by the international award.
Audoin-Rouzeau 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 has undertaken a project on the epidemiology of the Black Death and bubonic plague, the result of which was a work considered definitive in the research area: Les chemins de la peste (Pest Roads) (2003).
Fred is the diminutive of her given name, Frédérique, while Vargas derives from the Ava Gardner character in the film The Barefoot Contessa. Her twin sister Joëlle, a painter, adopted the pseudonym of Jo Vargas.
Vargas writes mostly police thrillers (policiers). She found writing was a way to combine her interests and relax from her job as a scientist. Her novels are set 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 in 2005.
In 2006 her next novel, The Three Evangelists, won the inaugural Duncan Lawrie International Dagger. She also won the award in 2008 with Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand. She was the first author to be shortlisted for three successive novels. In 2009 Vargas was again awarded the International Dagger, becoming the first author to receive it for three successive novels. The International Dagger also recognizes the translator, in each case Siân Reynolds.
Fred Vargas took an important part in the defence of Cesare Battisti, a left-wing activist sought by Italian and French justice since 2004 for alleged assassinations committed in the 1970s, during the "Years of Lead".