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Bruno, Chief of Police: A Novel of the French Countryside Paperback – April 6, 2010

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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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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

“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] wonderfully crafted novel as satisfying as a French pastry but with none of the guilt or calories.” —Tucson Citizen’s Journal
“Bruno is a delightful character and Walker’s handling of long-held grudges is intelligent and sympathetic.” —The Guardian (London)

“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.” —Baton Rouge Advocate
“Highly satisfying.” —The Boston Globe
“Absolutely amazing.” The Knowledgeable Blogger
“Such a pleasure to read that I can’t help but suspect that Walker had equal fun writing it.” —BookBrowse
“Charming and many pages of the book will have readers purring with delight. There is, however, a darker side. . . . The crime which disturbs the idyllic commune of St Denis has its origins in France’s troubled past and provokes outbreaks of the politically inspired violence that simmers beneath the placid and agreeable surface presented to tourists.” —The Scotsman (UK)
“Distinctive well-rounded characters and an intriguing mystery are a winning combination in Martin Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police. . . . Walker’s relaxed style and good humour help to bring to life his engaging hero and his delightful home and make one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time.” —Susanna Yager, Sunday Telegraph (UK)
“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

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (April 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030745469X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307454690
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (390 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Former foreign correspondent in USSR, USA, Europe and Africa for the Guardian (UK), author of histories of the Cold War and 20th century USA, and of studies of Gorbachev, Clinton, the extreme right etc.
Now I write mystery stories set in the Perigord region of rural France, home of truffles, foie gras, great cheeses and wonderful wines.
In 2013, I was made a chevalier of foie gras, in the confrerie of pate de Perigueux, and also an honorary Ambassador of the Perigord, which means I get to accompany the traveling exhibition of the Lascaux cave as it goes on display at museums around the world. I also help promote the wines of Bergerac at international wine fairs, and was chairman of the jury for this year's Prix Ragueneau, the international culinary prize,
The hero of my mystery stories is Bruno, a French country policeman and former soldier who was wounded while serving it UN peacekeepers during the siege of Sarajevo. Bruno hunts, cooks, tries never to arrest anyone and, hates to carry his gun (but sometimes must. He loves his basset hound, his horse and a complicated array of firmly independent women.
The Perigord also contains more medieval castles per square kilometre than anywhere else on earth and is home to the prehistoric paintings of the Lascaux cave. Most of what we know of prehistory comes from this valley of the river Vezere, where humans have lived continuously for some 70,000 years or more. Devoted to the area and his adopted home of the small town of St Denis, Bruno instinctively understands why our ancestors chose this spot

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

119 of 121 people found the following review helpful 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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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A. Anderson on December 10, 2010
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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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By W. Benson on July 7, 2009
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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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on May 29, 2009
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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