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. Brunoas he is affectionately nicknamedmay be the towns 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 lifeliving in his restored shepherds 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 Brunos attention: the man was found with a swastika carved into his chest.
Because of the cases 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 mans past, Brunos suspicions turn toward a more complex motive. His investigation draws him into one of the darkest chapters of French historyWorld 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 periods sinister legacy.
Bruno, Chief of Police is deftly dark, mesmerizing, and totally engaging.
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 towns 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 ...
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 (713 words).
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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