Mysteries of the French Countryside

I recently discovered a wonderful book of suspense and romance by Martin Walker, complete with intrigue, sex, food and wine. From the first paragraph I am swept away into the French countryside cheering for the underdogs, waiting for the cross-examinations, following the narrow mountain roads overlooking breathtaking views, and raising a glass to the hamlet’s only café.

The author, Mr. Walker, comes from a political and historical Bruno cover2approach to journalism, but has no difficulty turning his pen to fiction. He regales his readers with the adventures of a lone policeman in Saint-Denis, France in his pilot novel, “Bruno, Chief of Police”. You read that correctly; even though Bruno’s rank is Chief of Police, he is the only policeman in his lovely little village in this part of Burgundian France – Bordeaux. Unraveling the mystery of a murdered Algerian war hero who lived the life of a hermit on the outskirts of town, Bruno must keep the peace on multiple fronts -the crime touches some of the highest seats of the French government Bruno must answer to, while it stirs memories and buried emotions from the war against Nazi Germany among his friends and their relations of Saint-Denis.

As for the genre, there are some that feel a writer must not read what they write for fear of copying. I disagree. When another author does it right, all others should take note, for one can only learn; and learn, I do. For example, these stories are about Frenchmen doing French things, in France, yet I am reading in English. But wait, there is plenty of the French language tucked between these pages, craftily woven into the tale – you hardly notice; no need for a character to even say “Bien sûr” or “D’accord”. You just know. Genius. Not how I would have done it, but I find I prefer Walker’s technique.

The Dark Garden2I love recipes that crop up in books as the characters grill a steak (ooh, must try that marinade) or prepare an egg or potatoes and veggies (so simple, yet so very French). Everywhere Bruno goes he is offered food or drink, giving one an insight into the French way of life. I couldn’t ask for more… except perhaps a second in the series.

Well, I got my wish and a have starting reading “The Dark Vineyard”.


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1 comment:

  1. This sounds like my kind of novel to cozy up with. Thanks for sharing, Niki!