Martin Walker's laconic protagonist, Benoit Courreges, better known as Bruno, is the kind of fictional character you know you're going to miss after you finish the book. And he lives in a place whose splendid beauty and pastoral grace you yearn to escape to - well, maybe except for the grisly murder that just took place, and the fact that the townspeople in the little French hamlet of St. Denis may not be as innocent as they'd like to think.
Bruno is an unmarried police officer who serves a tiny community where he knows everyone's name and history and enjoys a close relationship with the town's mayor. He's a soft spoken, gentle man with enviable people skills, and the townspeople are happy to bring him a covered dish or a bottle of wine from time to time. He settles most disputes by either diverting the aggrieved parties' attention away from the problem or, when he...
Beyond the Book
The Two Faces of France During WWII
What happens when part of a country's population embraces the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity while the rest abandon those principles in favor of work, family, fatherland, and a heavy dose of anti-Semitism? Moreover, what if that ideological split divides not only the country's people, but its leadership as well? If that country is France during World War II, facing off against a German fighting machine that some perceived as undefeatable, the answer is simple: the country is rent in two.
As soon as Germany stormed into Paris in June 1940 the French people were forced to choose one side or the other. Either agree with Prime Minister Paul Reynaud and General Charles de Gaulle and oppose Hitler, or side with...