What a lovely escape into rural France. And for crime fiction, even the brutal murder and subsequent investigation seems muted and gentled by the rolling hills, the mellow wine, and the rich and tasty food. But make no mistake. This is an intelligent novel, well written and full of political and historical reality and unafraid to deal with difficult issues.
Bruno is a village policeman, well versed with the ways of his sleepy but robust little town, from the markets to the vineyards. He has a basset hound, makes his own wine, grows his own vegetables, and teaches five year olds tennis. That way he not only participates in community service, but knows the characters of the boys when they become troublesome teenagers. Here’s a quote about Bruno from Walker’s website. “Bruno handles cases with great discretion, circulating so quietly and tactfully among his neighbours that his interviews are more like friendly visits; it’s a wonderful detection method and even cannier literary strategy, allowing Walker to pursue the plot of his mystery while beguiling the reader with extended scenes of village market days, old-fashioned wine harvests, etc.”
Martin Walker comes to his novel writing with an impressive list of credentials. He is an Oxford scholar, accomplished in journalism, European history, politics, international relations, and economics. He owns a basset hound, just like his character Bruno, and a house in the Dordogne region of France. This is the first in his Bruno series and he has written other books as well. His website is worth looking at. I’m sure I’ll be making an armchair visit to France and this Bruno series again!
Martin Walker Website