Murderous Reviews – Bruno, Chief of Police (Bruno, Chief of Police #01) – Martin Walker (2008)
I have to confess that I was slowly seduced by this book, which made me want to run away to France, buy an isolated cottage, make my own sausages and grow carrots.
Bruno is an ex-soldier working as a policeman in the French town of St Denis. Up until now his main problems have been Planning violations, keeping the rugby team in order and co-ordinating the townspeople’s defences against the bureaucratic nonsense of the EU food inspectors. However, he has a real crime on his hands when an elderly arab is murdered and left with a swastika carved into his chest.
Walker paints an idyllic picture of this part of France, where every meal appears to be a gourmet’s dream, accompanied by a bewildering selection of alcohol. This is contrasted by the elements of French Society that are veering toward the Right, despite their experience of such things in World War II.
Do not think though that this is a depressing tale of political extremism, since it is not. It is very much character driven, with a largeish cast of very individual characters from various social and ethnic backgrounds, but who are all decidedly and proudly French (apart from two English women, but even they have gone partly native and become part of the scenery).
It’s a thoroughly enjoyable read, which taught me a great deal about France, the French and French history. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series now.
Have lots of food to hand though, as it will make you hungry.