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Bruno, Chief of Police: A Novel of the French Countryside Paperback – April 6, 2010
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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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1. Walker is not Jack Higgins; Bruno is not Sean Dillon. If you're looking for a non-stop shoot 'em up, this is not it.
2. Walker is not Tom Clancy. For some of us, this freedom from eight hundred pages of in-depth analyses of geopolitics and military technology is a wonderful thing.
3. Walker is not Agatha Christie. The mystery anchors the story for Walker. But fulsome character development, not the mystery itself, keeps you coming back. You'll want to know more about the mayor, the Baron, and the Englishwomen. You'll care about them too.
4. Walker is not Orhan Pamuk or Elfriede Jelinek; he will not win the Nobel Prize for literature. Think Larry McMurtry, not Cormac McCarthy. Still excellent writing. If, after a week of hard work or on your first vacation in two years, you want something more like Lonesome Dove than The Piano Teacher or No Country for Old Men, then this is your bailiwick.
The reviews of the Bruno series liken the title character to Andy Griffith. I love that show, and I can see how the two small-town law enforcement officers might invite comparison. Certainly both of them are ideal, beneficent public servants. But Walker gives Bruno a depth not possible in a 1960s television show. A veteran of the Balkans, Bruno is a man who knows the value of the ancient and (mostly) tranquil Perigord and St. Denis. Take a look at Walker's Cold War-era non-fiction resume and you might suspect the same is true of the author.
I savor these books. I don't like to read them at the doctor's office or in line at the DMV. I like to sit down on the weekend and immerse myself for a while. I try to approach them like a Michelin three-star meal or a good bottle of wine. The pace of the books is happily not unlike the pace of the setting. As I've read more books in the series, I've avoided reading the synopses before starting. I enjoy knowing that I'm headed to St. Denis, but having no idea what I'll find there. If a slow-paced and well-written journey is up your alley, I heartily recommend this book and, indeed, the whole series.