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The Crowded Grave: A Mystery of the French Countryside (Bruno, Chief of Police) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 10, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 191 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“The small towns where Martin Walker sets his enchanting country mysteries embody the sublime physical beauty and intractable political problems of the Dordogne region of France.” –The New York Times Book Review

“In Martin Walker’s delightful series about Bruno, chief of police in a small Dordogne village, the charm of rural France is regularly disrupted—but not too much.” –Adam Woog, The Seattle Times

“A lighthearted celebration of the Périgord region of France . . . [with a] prevailing atmosphere of dappled sunlight and good food and wine and friends. A pleasure for Francophiles, oenophiles, and the palate.”  —Booklist

 “Another delicious romp through a French menu garnished with politics.” Kirkus

 “Appealing . . . Walker hits the sweet spot of balancing humor and drama, and his food descriptions will leave readers fantasizing about dining in the Périgord.”  —Publishers Weekly

About the Author

MARTIN WALKER is senior director of the Global Business Policy Council, a private think tank for CEOs of major corporations, based in Washington, D.C. He is also editor in chief emeritus and an international affairs columnist at United Press International. His three previous novels in the Bruno series are Bruno, Chief of Police; The Dark Vineyard; and Black Diamond. He lives in Washington, D.C., and the Dordogne.

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Product Details

  • Series: Bruno, Chief of Police (Book 4)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf (July 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307700194
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307700193
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (191 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #955,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Patto TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bruno's idyllic life as Chief of Police of St. Denis gets seriously interrupted in this latest mystery set in the gastronomic heart of France. He scarcely has time to feed his chickens and ducks, walk his dog, and make love to the local mad Scotswoman - what with attacks on the Périgord fois gras industry by animal rights activists, and a sensitive summit meeting on Basque terrorism about to be held in St. Denis.

Bruno is assigned to help plan security for the summit, which brings him into contact with his former lover, Isabella, the Intelligence officer in charge of base operations. Bruno has a habit of falling for strong women who value career or independence over relationships. With two such lovers stirring his emotions in this book, he finds it hard sometimes to keep his mind on terrorist threats.

One thread in the complex plot I especially enjoyed evolves around an archeological dig. The Périgord is the cradle of prehistoric man, as well as being famous for its wines, truffles and fine wines. The site of all those prehistoric bones makes an interesting place for a modern skeleton to turn up - a pivotal event in the plot.

But what I always like most about the Bruno mysteries is watching Bruno interact with, and look out for, the citizens of St. Denis. Bruno is brilliantly effective at community policing. He never arrests anyone if he can help it. Rather, he promotes peaceful solutions to local conflicts. The locals are his friends. He drinks with them, hunts with them, and cooks them amazing dinners. His gun rarely leaves the office.

To appreciate this book fully, I think it would help to know the history of contemporary Europe, and Basque terrorism in particular. Which I don't. But there was enough action to keep me hooked - bombings, a kidnapping and a dramatic fight, in which not only Bruno, but his dog, his horse and his ex-lover shine.
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Format: Hardcover
In the past two weeks I've read all 4 Bruno novels. And, I'm hungry for more. Please Mr. Walker, could I have more?

This is the story of a French municipal policeman, Benoit Correges known as Bruno, in the Commune of Saint Denis in the Perigord. Being the only municipal police man, he must be the Chief of Police. He is a gourmet cook, a rugger, a hunter, a diplomat, a lover, retired from the French Combat Engineers ( described as equivalent to the Seals ) and a splendid policeman. He views his job as maintaining order while protecting the life style and the people of his community. In the Crowded Grave, he has been seconded to the French Central Intelligence Bureau to help plan for a meeting of the French and Spanish Interior Ministers in Saint Denis. They will sign a new agreement to deal with issues related to Basque terrorism. Throw in a PETA attack on small farmers producing foie gras, a contemporary body found when archeologists are excavating a prehistoric grave, issues with Bruno's current lady, issues with one of Bruno's past ladies, fussing and feuding with the new judicial magistrate and almost a conflict with the officious and borderline competent Captain of Gendarmes and you can tell that Martin Walker has produced a tasty meal fit for a king! It's witty. It's humorous. It's serious. You feel the push and pull between the modern technocrats and the conservative French country people. You feel Bruno's and hence Walker's love of this land and its people.

I can not praise the writing too highly. The language and the cast of characters, eccentric and essentially gallic are delightful and produce a highly readable series. You really get a feel for the land, the people and their life.
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Format: Hardcover
Detective/police serial novels are infamous for going soft or becoming repetitive, but the Bruno books keep getting better. If you're unfamiliar with them, Bruno Courrèges is the country policeman of St. Denis, in France's southern wine country. He finds ways to solve the squabbles in his jurisdiction that save face for all, even if it means skirting the letter of the law. Inevitably, a seemingly small thing becomes a big thing, and Bruno deftly protects the interests of St. Denis and is right in the action as the bad guys are brought to justice.

"The Crowded Grave" is perhaps the best so far, with crackling action and international intrigue that builds continually. Along the way, there's time for new and old girlfriends, battling bureaucratic idiocy, lots of shared meals, and superb wines. Characteristically, the sex scenes are handled in a modest sentence or two, while preparing and sharing a meal can go on for a couple of pages. That's fine with me; the emotions and affection behind both are honest and complete. I didn't want this book to end and I look forward eagerly to the next one.

I read international detective stories for the joy of discovering the subtleties of different cultures: what's important to them, how they perceive themselves and other countries. In the Bruno books, the culture of rural southern France is about as subtle as a barrel of Pomerol dropped on your foot. It informs every action by the locals and is the source of puzzlement, admiration, and frustration to outsiders. Martin Walker is having a torrid love affair with the countryside, and we are fortunate that he shares his intimate encounters with us through Bruno and the other characters.

If you have read and enjoyed the other Bruno books, you owe it to yourself to read this one. If you haven't, please start with the first and read them in order.
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