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Bruno, Chief of Police: A Novel of the French Countryside Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 24, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 425 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Policing in Chief Bruno Courrèges's sun-dappled patch of Périgord involves protecting local fromages from E.U. hygiene inspectors, orchestrating village parades and enjoying the obligatory leisurely lunch—that is, until the brutal murder of an elderly Algerian immigrant instantly jolts Walker's second novel (after The Caves of Périgord) from provincial cozy to timely whodunit. As a high-powered team of investigators, including a criminally attractive female inspector, invade sleepy St. Denis to forestall any anti-Arab violence, the amiable Bruno must begin regarding his neighbors—or should we say potential suspects—in a rather different light. Without sacrificing a soupçon of the novel's smalltown charm or its characters' endearing quirkiness, Walker deftly drives his plot toward a dark place where old sins breed fresh heartbreak. Walker, a foreign affairs journalist, is also the author of such nonfiction titles as The Iraq War and America Reborn. (Mar.)
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Review

"Martin Walker has not only written an engrossing roman policier, but he has written a book that goes to the very heart of what France–rural, small-town France–is like. It's a thriller, and full of surprises, but it will also appeal to anybody who loves France. Bruno, Chief of Police, is a wonderful creation.
-Michael Korda, author of Charmed Lives

“Hugely enjoyable and absolutely gripping. Martin Walker has got off to a flying start in what promises to be a great series. Bruno will be the Maigret of the Dordogne.”
-Antony Beevor, author of Paris After the Liberation 1944-1949

“A splendid combination of a complex crime with tangled wartime origins that takes place in a lovingly described French village, and a totally original and sympathetic hero. Absolutely first rate. There must be more to come about Bruno!”
-William Pfaff, author of Barbarian Sentiments: America in the New Century

“Martin Walker has found in Bruno a man rooted in the terroir of Perigord, who brings that quirky, lovable part of France alive. This novel is as tasty as a slice of Bruno’s local foie gras, topped with a glass of his homemade vin de noix.”
-David Ignatius, author of Body of Lies

“Martin Walker’s gentle, entrancing new French crime novel has been an enormous hit across Europe and it is easy to see why. But beneath its obvious professionalism and pleasures, as with its subtly original hero, there are far more hidden strengths and valuable messages than at first meet the eye . . . In an era when most Americans are ignorant of France in its true richness, generosity of spirit, and quality of life, Mr. Walker and his Bruno offer an enchanting introduction into this very real world. The American reading public should flock to join them.”
-Martin Sieff, The Washington Times

“This wonderfully crafted novel is as satisfying as a French pastry but with none of the guilt or calories.”
-Tucson Citizen’s Journal

“[A] timely whodunit . . . Without sacrificing a soupçon of the novel’s smalltown charm or its characters’ endearing quirkiness, Walker deftly drives his plot toward a dark place where old sins breed fresh heartbreak.”
-Publishers Weekly

“A nice literary pairing with the slow-food movement . . . [It is] lovely . . . to linger at the table.”
-Entertainment Weekly

“Highly enjoyable . . . Martin Walker plots with the same finesse with which Bruno can whip up a truffle omelette, and both have a clear appreciation for a life tied to the land.”
-The Christian Science Monitor

“A roman policier . . . that the celebrated Simenon, creator of Inspector Jules Maigret, would have been proud to claim . . . Readers [will] effortlessly enter French consciousness through [this] perspicacious book.”
-Ben Martin, Baton Rouge Advocate

“A paean to the Dordogne, an exploration of fractious French history, and the debut of the most self-possessed, accomplished, even-tempered, life-savoring Holmesian character ever, Walker’s first Bruno novel proves once and for all that heavyweight journalists can write mystery novels . . . Walker’s love of the place shines through. Readers will look forward to visiting it again with him and the incomparable Bruno.”
-Lynn Harnett, Seacoast Sunday [New Hampshire]

“[Martin] Walker sets a charming table . . . the civilized approach to detection will likely appeal to fans of Roderic Jeffries’s Inspector Alvarez.”
-Kirkus
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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (March 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307270173
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307270177
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (425 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #548,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The only reason I picked this book off the shelf in the library is because I was wondering if it was the same Martin Walker I'd been listening to for years as a commentator on my local NPR station. When I saw that it was, I took a closer look and, being a fan of crime fiction, thought I'd give it a go. Little did I suspect that I'd be so thoroughly engrossed by the routine of a small-town French policeman that I'd set aside all other reading for three days to tear through it.

The book is set in a quintessentially quaint and charming small town (pop. 2,900) in the super-picturesque Dordogneregion. The opening chapters are all about establishing the sights, smells, and rhythms of the town and the titular character's role within it as a kind of avuncular, sensible enforcer of the law. Well, not quite all laws (especially not the strict food processing laws of the EU), but the more important ones (unless you think drunk driving is important). However, soon enough, the quiet little town is devastated by the murder of a quiet old Algerian -- the father of the town's math teacher, and the grandfather of the town's rugby star.

This stirs up all kinds of tension, and as the National Front, provincial detectives, and prosecutors and politicians from Paris all flood in to get involved, Bruno has to do his best to protect the people of his idyllic town from all these outsiders.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the village of St. Denis, life is very good. And the man with the best of lives is Brunoit (known as Bruno), the young and attractive Chief of Police, who leads the citizens of his village with empathy and sensitivity and is generally beloved. And that, largely, is what the book is about. There is no grit in this mystery and very little mystery: there are no bad guys but only the eddies that arise from the past. Even the death of a nearly invisible member of the community has only momentary impact with a barely jarring note. This is a love song to the small town life of rural France, where friends and neighbors are kind and helpful and generous, where the routine of daily life is soothing and reassuring and where, if you are an expatriate American (as the writer seems to be), everything is good in retreating from the bustle and where the demands of the modern world are muted. It is lovingly written, and while attractive, has little beyond the appeal of an airbrushed postcard. Readers of the Donna Leon series set n Venice with the more believable police chief, Brunetti, may like Bruno and the travel to this lovely village. Those who want a tangible mystery or a bit of depth in characters will feel as though they ate a profiterole...tasty but unmemorable.
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Format: Hardcover
A paean to the Dordogne, an exploration of fractious French history, and the debut of the most self-possessed, accomplished, even-tempered, life-savoring Holmesian character ever, Walker's first Bruno novel proves once and for all that heavyweight journalists can write mystery novels.

Former Russia and U.S. bureau chief for The Guardian, current Editor Emeritus of UPI, author of such books as "The Cold War," and "The President They Deserve," this British journalist, historian, scholar, and global policy advisor has created a hero dedicated to the quiet, regular, sensual life of rural France.

Bruno, an orphan abandoned by his mother, joined the military at an early age and spent 12 years with the Combat Engineers, which seems roughly equivalent to Special Forces. Receiving a Croix de Guerre for his service in the Balkans, Bruno retired to St. Denis and became the town's police chief and only policeman.

Although new to the town, he has become part of its fabric, savoring the rhythm of life - his own and that of the townspeople, from the two old WWII partisans that don't speak, and the town's token communist, to its bakers and cheese makers and vintners, its quarrels, rivalries and long-simmering feuds, even its newcomers - the English tourists who have lately been pushing up the housing prices.

He plays tennis with the Baron (atheist and retired industrialist), coaches kids at rugby, hunts birds, cooks, works on his house, organizes parades, safeguards the local market from the health inspectors of the European Union, and with the help of his friend the politically well-connected mayor, generally keeps the peace.
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Format: Hardcover
If you can't afford that vacation in the south of France this year, Bruno may be the next best thing. Walker does a wonderful job of evoking life in a small town in the Dordogne--its cuisine and odd characters, its humdrum rhythms--through the life of its shrewd, affable chief of police, the distinctively French rural bon vivant, Bruno. For good measure, Walker throws in interesting angles on everything from French bureaucracy to tensions between Muslim immigrants and the native population. A bit slow to start because of the luxuriant scene setting, the book quickly picks up and the pages fly by.
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