The Dordogne town of St Denis may be picturesque and sleepy, but it has more than its fair share of mysteries, as Bruno, chef de police, knows all too well.
But when Bruno is invited to the 90th birthday of a powerful local patriarch - a war hero with high-level political connections in France, Russia and Israel - he encounters a family with more secrets than even he had imagined.
When one of the other guests is found dead the next morning and the family try to cover it up, Bruno knows it's his duty to prevent the victim from becoming just another skeleton in their closet. Even if his digging reveals things Bruno himself would rather keep buried.
Meanwhile, very modern battles are being fought in St Denis between hunters defending their traditions and environmentalists protecting local wildlife. Neither side, it seems, is above the use of violent tactics. At the centre of it all, Bruno must use all his cunning and character to protect his community's future from its present - and its past.
©2015 Martin Walker (P)2015 WF Howes Ltd
"Walker is brilliant at capturing the murderous charms of rural France...the setting is undeniably delicious." (Mirror)
"The Bruno series...is highly assured, full of quirky touches and characterised with real exuberance." (Good Book Guide)
The narration was perfect and enhanced the sense of place which is the predominant feature of the Bruno books. The plot was carefully constructed and believable. Interspersed by the wonderful descriptions of the food and scenery of the area. I had been a little disappointed with the last Martin Walker novel but this has him back on form with the minutiae seamlessly absorbed. Can see this as a TV series. Loads of money then Martin to write more books please!
I wish the audiobooks weren't of the American versions - it's a bit like the soloist producing an off key note every so often! That tooth grinding feeling when you're caught short by "pants", "hood" - of a car? - sports coat, in summer, you'd wear a coat?, slacks? sounds worse than shell suit!, asking to use someone's "bathroom" - unusual to take a shower or bath when you're only visiting for a quick drink.
Deer in France seem to cause frequent serious road traffic accidents, unlike their British cousins in the Ashdown Forest, who are a known hazard, but usually don't bring out lynch mobs or armed posses of vigilantes.
If Walker's facts are true, it is possible for someone to be cremated after a sudden death, on the basis of a death certificate from one single doctor, who has not been treating them very recently, without a postmortem. Also, someone can be committed as insane for compulsory psychiatric assessment (in a police station) by one single doctor who hasn't even examined them or seen them recently.
I do hope this isn't true!!
French police seem to be powerless to protect citizens against gun toting hunting types, but on the other hand, can be as lawless as anything we saw here in the miners' strike, or in Paris '68, or Kristallnacht.
Lord have mercy!
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