Pierre Magnan's country life
My first thought was that they were suspicious of outsiders. I later guessed that village life gave them time to cogitate at great length on all sorts of things, including ephemera such as passing tourists.
I'm strongly reminded of that encounter about halfway into Pierre Magnan's Death in the Truffle Wood. Magnan sets his book in a village of 900 people in the Basses-Alpes of France. A number of people have disappeared, but the investigation gets underway slowly. Far more to the fore are the mysteries and the hints thereto in the lives of the villagers and of the commissaire called in to investigate the disappearances. This novel, in other words, uses people to create a vivid, unfamiliar (to me) setting.
Though her orientation is generally more urban than this, I'd bet that Fred Vargas reads Magnan. And I'd bet that her readers would like Magnan as well.
© Peter Rozovsky 2009