Title: Bruno, Chief of Police (Vintage)
Author: Martin Walker
Release Date: March 24, 2009
Source: Curled Up With a Good Book
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Benoit Courreges, nicknamed Bruno, is the chief of police in the small town of St. Denis in southern France. Their existence is idyllic; the most Bruno usually has to worry about is protecting the townspeople from the EU inspectors who inspect the local market. However, when a man is brutally murdered, Bruno begins to investigate the darker side of St. Denis.
I’ve really been enjoyed the slew of mysteries I’ve been reading lately, so I was eager to read Bruno, Chief of Police. The intriguing mystery combined with the French setting made for a fun and engrossing read.
Bruno, Chief of Police was a well-written mystery whose true strength was in its characters. Bruno is a charming man, easy to like and someone the reader is quick to trust. He clearly is well-respected in St. Denis and has a lot of friends among the local population. His loyalty to the mayor, a man who helped him when he needed it most and continues to do so, is admirable and shows Bruno’s true character.
Bruno is also resourceful and very sharp. He looks at all facets of the investigation, from every possible viewpoint. He hunts down every lead until he is sure the trail has been exhausted. In short, he’s exactly the type of man mystery lovers want to read about. Though he doesn’t have the tortured past of many American literary detectives, he does have some skeletons in his closet he would like to forget.
Walker does an excellent job writing this mystery. The twists and turns are satisfying and make the book surprising. Additionally, the puzzle in this novel has layers that aren’t apparent at the beginning. As Bruno delves deeper into it, he is required to uncover more about France’s controversial past concerning the Nazis. Walker portrays the general sentiment about Vichy France very well – it’s an embarrassment of the past, one that no one wants to talk about. But Bruno has to, in order to figure out the specifics of the crime.
Additionally, Walker isn’t afraid to confront the undercurrents of racial tension in France. It is well known that there is resentment towards Arabs and Muslims in the country presently, and Walker discusses this at length. He isn’t afraid to tackle heavy subjects, yet doesn’t drag the novel down with these issues.
Bruno, Chief of Police was an enjoyable read and a thrilling mystery. Walker is a talented writer and has created a very endearing and capable man in Bruno. For readers’ sake, let’s hope that this is the first in a series so we can see more wonderful novels featuring Bruno.