Summary and book reviews of Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker

Bruno, Chief of Police

By Martin Walker

Bruno, Chief of Police
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  • Hardcover: Mar 2009,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2010,
    288 pages.

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Book Summary

The first installment in a wonderful new series that follows the exploits of Benoît Courrèges, a policeman in a small French village where the rituals of the café still rule. Bruno—as he is affectionately nicknamed—may be the town’s only municipal policeman, but in the hearts and minds of its denizens, he is chief of police.

Bruno is a former soldier who has embraced the pleasures and slow rhythms of country life—living in his restored shepherd’s cottage; patronizing the weekly market; sparring with, and basically ignoring, the European Union bureaucrats from Brussels. He has a gun but never wears it; he has the power to arrest but never uses it. But then the murder of an elderly North African who fought in the French army changes everything and galvanizes Bruno’s attention: the man was found with a swastika carved into his chest.

Because of the case’s potential political ramifications, a young policewoman is sent from Paris to aid Bruno with his investigation. The two immediately suspect militants from the anti-immigrant National Front, but when a visiting scholar helps to untangle the dead man’s past, Bruno’s suspicions turn toward a more complex motive. His investigation draws him into one of the darkest chapters of French history—World War II, a time of terror and betrayal that set brother against brother. Bruno soon discovers that even his seemingly perfect corner of la belle France is not exempt from that period’s sinister legacy.

Bruno, Chief of Police
is deftly dark, mesmerizing, and totally engaging.

1

On a bright May morning, so early that the last of the mist was still lingering low over a bend in the Vézère River, a white van drew to a halt on the ridge that overlooked the small French town. A man climbed out, strode to the edge of the road and stretched mightily as he admired the familiar view of St. Denis. The town emerged from the lush green of the trees and meadows like a tumbled heap of treasure; the golden stone of the buildings, the ruby red tiles of the rooftops and the silver curve of the river running through it. The houses clustered down the slope and around the main square of the Hôtel de Ville where the council chamber, its Mairie, and the office of the town’s own policeman perched above the thick stone columns that framed the covered market. The grime of three centuries only lately scrubbed away, its honey-colored stone glowed richly in the morning sun.

On the far side of the square stood the venerable church, its thick walls and squat tower ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

I’m glad to know that Walker promises more Bruno books. As for the flagship novel of the series, it was such a pleasure to read that I can’t help but suspect Walker had equal fun writing it.   (Reviewed by Donna Chavez).

Full Review Members Only (1055 words).

Media Reviews
Eurocrime.co.uk

Bruno, Chief of Police may be a gentle book but it does not pull its punches. It is well-written, introducing a charming, likable main character: a satisfying detective story; and conveying a strong love and understanding of the Dordogne region of France … the author is not afraid to address difficult issues head-on, personal and political … told with authority and style, as one might expect from an author who has written distinguished histories ...

Sunday Telegraph - Susanna Yager

The pleasures of life in the Dordogne, some 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.

Literary Review - Jessica Mann

But the selling point of this delightful book is its setting in the legendary France profonde, where market stalls offer goat's cheese and foie gras, home-made jam and oils flavoured with walnuts and truffles, where steaks are timed to perfection by singing the Marseillaise, and menus composed as skilfully as Martin Walker's prose. Walker brings to life both a complete community and the chief of police who is its protector, teacher and friend. This book's ingredients are combined as carefully as Bruno’s good meals. Second helpings, please!

The Scotsman - Allan Massie

It is written with a deep love of rural France, for the countryside, the people, the way of life and the cuisine. All this is charming and many pages of the book will have readers purring with delight … so enjoyable … so pervasive and agreeable is the charm of this novel that it might even allow you to pass the time pleasantly as you wait in an airport departure lounge for your long-delayed holiday flight to France.

Kirkus Reviews

Walker sets a charming table . . . the civilized approach to detection will likely appeal to fans of Roderic Jeffries’s Inspector Alvarez.

Publishers Weekly

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.

Entertainment Weekly - Julia Holmes

Martin Walker's book is a nice literary pairing with the slow-food movement. But lovely as it is to linger at the table, the sleuthing can drag. B+

Reader Reviews
Gail

I want more
What a great read! well plotted and believable characters. I can't say enough good things. I hope there are more in the works. I am going to go back a not some of the recipes for the food he cooked. Maybe without the trufflesl

Lupoman

Bruno, chief of police
This book is a BookBrowse Editor Choice, so I read it hoping it lived up to my expectations; and not only is this a terrific murder mystery, I did not want the story to end. The chief of police, named Bruno, is a wonderful protagonist, and kept me ...   Read More

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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 ...

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